Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

LSHA & Shands at Lake Shore ignore ADA
Physically challenged are 2nd class

The beautiful Judy Cimaglia never has an easy day. Experiencing the LSHA/Shands campus in Lake City would not lighten her load.

It is my understanding from reading both the Lake City Reporter and the Columbia County Observer that the Lake Shore Hospital Authority is floating on a sea of cash and has money to build medical offices for doctors that don't need money. I concluded from reading the articles and looking at the photos in the Observer that the Lake Shore Hospital Authority and the Shands at Lake Shore campus are not friendly to the physically challenged. Indeed, it appears that both the LSHA and Shands have gone out of their way to be unfriendly to those less fortunate than themselves.

I have been bound to a wheel chair my whole life and I can assure you that to me and my wife, who can now only get around in a wheel chair that ten feet can be like a mile. Unfortunately, it appears that the local agency that is responsible for seeing that the requirements of the ADA are followed, the city of Lake City, has dropped the ball and has for years been turning a blind eye on this whole situation.

Although you may have complied in a limited way with the law, it is the intent of the law that matters the most. It is one thing to be able to come in out of the rain, but it’s another to be able to get to your destination.

Let’s suppose a physically challenged person has business in a building separate from the Shands Hospital. How would he or she get there?  From the photos, it appears the street is the only avenue.

In this modern day and age the lack of curb cuts has just about disappeared. Why is the LSHA campus missing curb cuts and sidewalks? Why are the wheel chair bound and the blind forced into the streets? Do you think that they do not feel fear?

Believe me when I tell you that I have experienced these situations throughout my lifetime. It is no picnic.

Being stuck in a hallway without access to an office is the worst and most degrading situation of all. Not having a space for a wheel chair in a waiting room puts one on display like a monkey in a cage. I compare it to being forced to ride in the back of the bus. You may as well post a notice that reads, "Physically Challenged need not feel welcome!"

In 1865, President Lincoln put forth the emancipation proclamation and for the next one hundred years the people it was supposed to help remained 2nd class citizens. Why  are you letting the Americans with Disabilities Act linger on in the same manner? It’s a shame when a taxpayer supported hospital authority and a non profit hospital need to be educated about this.

Until someone tries to recreate the master race again, the physically challenged community is here to stay. Look around your offices and at your families. At any time someone there could become disabled. Wouldn’t it be nice to have things in place to assist that person at the LSHA – Shands at Lake Shore campus in Lake City?

Years ago we moved into the  21st century. The dark ages are supposed to be well behind us. In many communities they are. Always bear in mind that the expense of doing the right thing tomorrow will be far greater than the cost of doing it today.

Somewhere it should be written: Every new building that rises, every existing edifice, is a monument to mankind, in as much as it reflects the attitude, beliefs and standards of its time and the people in the community."

Florida calls itself the Sunshine State. Maybe one day the sun will shine on the physically challenged in Lake City at the LSHA/Shands at Lake Shore campus. That would be nice. 

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Relevant links:
LSHA Berry nixes ADA compliance
Old & New LSHA bosses refuse to comply with ADA wheel chair requirements.
ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines
Lake City letter purported by LSHA giving Authority clean bill of health