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Updates to the Fairview Chemical Dependency Program

Upcoming community events & copy of MNCDHH's letter

1/15/2020 10:00:30 AM

ASL version

English version

Upcoming community events

There are two events scheduled to address the February 10, 2020 closing of the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Please attend and show your support and work towards keeping the program open. These are being organized by community advocates, including Dr. Deb Guthmann and Phillip Steinbruckner. 

January 23, 2020 - James Hereford, CEO M Fairview Health and other health care leaders will be coming together for Forum on Health Care. Starting at 7:30 a.m., a protest about the situation involving Bethesda and St. Josephs Hospital as well as the chemical dependency program will be held outside the Intercontinental Hotel, St. Paul Riverfront, 11 E. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55101.

January 28, 2020 - A town hall meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m CST at Christ Lutheran Church, 105 University Avenue W., St. Paul, MN.

Copy of MNCDHH's letter

On January 8, 2020, MNCDHH sent the following letter to Mr. Hereford. We have since emailed a copy of this letter to Chris Hickman, System Director, Behavioral Health and System Clinical Integration, Minnesota Fairview Health at If you have sent a letter, we encourage you to send a copy to Mr. Hickman as well. Thank you!

Darlene Zangara, Ph.D.
Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing
444 Lafayette Rd. N
St. Paul, MN 55155-3814

January 8, 2020

James Hereford, President/CEO
Fairview Health Services
2450 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454

Dear Mr. Hereford, 

On behalf of our stakeholders who are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing, we urge Fairview Health Services to reconsider the dismissal of the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (established in 1989). The Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program covers an important gap in chemical treatment services. It is one of the few chemical treatment programs in the country that provides direct services in American Sign Language (ASL) and has successfully done so for thirty years.

In other chemical dependency programs; deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing patients can only access program services during times where accommodations such as interpreting services and CART (captioning) are provided. In some cases, those accommodations are only provided during group sessions and lectures. This means that deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing patients do not experience the same level of access as their peers.

The quality of the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program is rare and offers deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing patients the best chance of success. 

For over a decade (1991-2002), I personally worked at The Community Network, an organization that provided direct services for deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community members in Ohio. As both a chemical dependency counselor and as director of programs, I have sent deaf and hard of hearing Ohioans to the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program at Fairview. The program was able to provide culturally affirming and linguistically appropriate services. The program was able to address their unique cultural needs.

Based on these experience, and the stories that I hear in our community, I believe in your program.

We at the Commission would be happy to help Fairview Health Services find funding solutions. The Commission recognizes the value your program brings to our stakeholders, their families, friends, and colleagues. The ramifications of no longer having this program would be dire, which is why it is so important to us to save it. Please contact me if we can work together. I can be reached at or 612-405-5618.


Darlene Zangara
Executive Director

citizen advocate

health care

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