Deaf man died not knowing he had cancer

N.J. Burkett reports from Long Island
February 18, 2014 3:02:48 PM PST
A family is now waging a legal battle after their father died of cancer without knowing he had the disease.

Alfred Weinrib and his two children are deaf.

They say three medical facilities failed to give them interpreters.

"We needed more information, we miss a lot of information because of this," said Melinda Weinrib, Alfred's daughter.

Melinda Weinrib and her brother, Lance, say it was agonizing. Sitting vigil at their father's bedside, unable to communicate with his medical team because Alfred Weinrib was deaf and so are they.

"Sometimes the staff wouldn't have any patience. We would be like, 'Hey do you mind just writing down what's going on?' And they would make faces they would have an attitude, you can see that exhale of frustration and they wouldn't work with us," Lance Weinrib said.

The Weinribs are suing Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip and the Gurwin Rehabilitation Center in Commack, claiming those facilities failed to provide legally-required sign-language interpreters while Mr. Weinrib was suffering from terminal melanoma.

Although his children claim they didn't know his actual medical condition until after he died.

"Upon looking at the medical records, they didn't realize that our father had cancer, my father didn't even know that he had cancer. We were left completely in the dark for seven months!" Lance Weinrib said.

Most of the time, the Weinribs say they were forced to use written notes and electronic devices were useless.

"The equipment was faulty and did not operate and after using it a few times, thereafter they refused to use it again in the future," said Eric Baum, the family's attorney.