Monthly Archives: February 2016

Growing demand for medical interpreters in Texas and across US –via Austin American-Statesman


By Liliana Valenzuela – ¡Ahora Sí!

Imagine having to tell your grandmother that she has cancer when you haven’t assimilated the news yourself. That’s what happened to Mark Villafuerte when he had to interpret between English and Spanish for his ailing grandma, when he was in his twenties.

With the growing number of people who speak Spanish at home — estimated to reach 43.1 million in 2020 in the United States, according to the Census Bureau 2011 projections — there’s more need than ever for professionally-trained medical interpreters, who bridge languages and cultures. In the Austin Independent School District alone, three out of five students are Hispanic (60 percent) and at least 24,000 students speak Spanish at home. Interpreters provide an essential service, and there are various training options locally.

Villafuerte, now 40, is a professional medical interpreter. He turned what had been years of informal training working different jobs in the medical field, plus a one-week intensive program at the University of Texas, into a career. He remembers that prior to this, because he was bilingual, “I would be pulled from one room to another” to communicate between doctors and nurses who only spoke English and patients who only spoke Spanish.

Not too long ago, untrained volunteers and even children were asked to translate sensitive information to patients, without knowing the proper medical terms or really understanding what was going on medically with the person.

“Am I saying this right?,” Villafuerte remembers thinking. “It’s hard for a kid to be responsible for an adult.”

To read more of this article courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman —> click here.



How Hospitals Screw You if You Don’t Speak English –via the Daily Beast

Doctors aren’t doing nearly enough to care for their non-English speaking patients.
I spend a lot of my time harping about the importance of communication in the field of healthcare, whether it’s between primary services and consulting subspecialists, providers and patients, or providers and family members of patients

The times when effective communication between patients and providers is hindered prove especially difficult. If the clinical condition precludes getting an accurate history from a patient, then we can usually rely on the objective data presented to us to come to a conclusion about how best to proceed. We ultimately hope that once we solve the underlying issues, we will in fact be able to talk to our patients and guide their care accordingly.

But what happens when the reason for poor communication is an unfeasible barrier?

2013 census data indicated that there are more than 40 million foreign-born people living in the U.S. Nearly 50 percent of this group have what is known as “limited English proficiency” (LEP), and our health care system repeatedly fails them. Without being able to effectively communicate with patients, a physician’s ability to take an appropriate history and physical becomes severely limited.

Take a patient who is presenting with chest pain. Without language coherence, it becomes difficult to localize and characterize the chest pain. Is it left-sided and sharp or sternal and dull? Did the pain start suddenly or come on gradually? Has this ever happened to the patient before—and if so, did they have a musculoskeletal injury, bad reflux, or a massive heart attack?

Additionally, the subtleties of all associated symptoms become nearly impossible to elicit. Was the chest pain associated with shortness of breath, deep breaths, movement, or none of the above? We can examine our patients and order diagnostic testing without getting an appropriate history, but every single provider will tell you that physical exams and diagnostic tests are useless without a targeted history.

Lower patient satisfaction and poorer health education are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact of language barriers on quality of health care delivered. And while providers have not been found to necessarily spend more time with non-English speaking patients, a study looking at hospital length of stay found that patients with LEP stayed for 6 percent longer than English-proficient patients.

To read more of this article coutesy of The Daily Beast —->click here

Florida House Passes ASL Interpreters Bill Unanimously –via WFSU


Currently there are no standard qualifications for American Sign Language interpreters in public schools. But Thursday the Florida House passed a bill unanimously that could that.

Google Translate Now Has More Than 100 Languages And Covers 99 Percent Of The Online Population –via Tech Crunch


Google’s online translation tool hit a major milestone today as it nears its 10th anniversary. After adding 13 new languages, including Hawaiian and Kurdish, Google Translate now includes more than 100 languages (103 to be exact).

Google claims that this means the service, which started in April 2006, covers 99 percent of the online population.

The idea for Google Translate was first planted in 2004, when co-founder Sergey Brin became frustrated with a translation program the company was licensing after it translated a Korean email into “The sliced raw fish shoes it wishes. Google green onion thing!”

To read more of this article courtesy of Tech Crunch —->click here

Arizona courts begin certification of language interpreters –via AP

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(Picture courtesy of Getty.)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s state court system is moving to require certification of foreign-language interpreters used by courts.

Under Arizona’s program, courts that employ full-time language interpreters will be required to have their interpreters credentialed by mid-2019, or within 24 months of hiring of interpreters hired in mid-2017 or later.

The Administrative Office of the Courts says 45 other states already have credentialing programs for court interpreters to help ensure equal justice under the law.

To read more of this article courtesy of the AP —>click here

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