Dr. Deborah Gilboa signs with her patient Yvonne Wilt , of Swissvale, during her visit at the Squirrel Hill Health Center. Dr. Gilboa is one of the few doctors in the nation who is fluent in American Sign Language.
By Tina Calabro
Deborah Gilboa had an unconventional path not only to becoming a family practice physician but also to becoming one of the few doctors in the nation who is fluent in American Sign Language.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in theater at Carnegie Mellon University in 1992, the Chicago native took a job as stage manager with Deaf West Theater in Los Angeles. It was a transformational experience. Immersed in deaf culture, she was surprised at how frequently her colleagues spoke about their difficulties communicating with doctors. As someone considering medicine as a career, she paid close attention.
Upon returning to Pittsburgh to complete prerequisites for admission to medical school, Dr. Gilboa became a certified ASL interpreter. Throughout medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, she gained valuable experience by interpreting in emergency rooms and other health care settings. When she finished her degree, she joined the staff of the Squirrel Hill Health Center, a federally funded agency whose mission is to remove barriers to high quality health care, including communication barriers. Patients who use the center, including many immigrants and refugees, speak numerous languages, all of which are accommodated by bilingual staff or interpreters.
“Deborah’s ability in ASL made her attractive to us,” said Susan Friedberg Kalson, CEO of the center. “She has such empathy for people who have overcome barriers to get health care.”
To read more of this article courtesy of the Pittsburgh Gazette, click the link below.