Category Archives: Interpreters

Governor Martinez Again Vetoes Bill to Improve Court Interpreter Services –via KRWG


Commentary:  For the second time in as many years, Governor Susana Martinez on Wednesday vetoed an uncontroversial measure to improve court interpreter services in New Mexico, putting into focus her past efforts as a District Attorney to keep Spanish-speakers from serving on juries.  Sponsored by Senator Mimi Stewart (D-17-Bernalillo), Senate Bill 210, “Create Court Language Access Fund”, was a measure without fiscal impact that would set up a new fund to be administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) for paying court interpreters and related expenses.  It removed court translators from being paid through the Jury and Witness Fee Fund.  The bill drew the Governor’s veto despite being passed without opposition in both the Senate and House.

“Respect for all languages is part of New Mexico’s culture since its inception, and the New Mexico Constitution gave Spanish speakers unique protections when it was adopted,” said Senator Stewart. “Therefore, it is vital that everyone, regardless of language spoken, has equal access to the courts.”

In 2000, then-DA Susana Martinez took vigorous legal action to disqualify people who do not speak English from serving as jurors, taking her case all the way to the state Supreme Court.  The Constitution of New Mexico protects people who speak and read either English or Spanish, however.  The New Mexico Supreme Court rejected Martinez’s push to keep Spanish-speaking people from serving on juries in Dona Ana County, or anywhere in the state.

In her veto message, the Governor states that it is unnecessary to create a new fund to be managed by the AOC. She either does not understand or does not want to understand that this legislation only segregates funds for interpreter and jury services, which are constitutionally separated, and does not have a fiscal impact on the state. Therefore, signing the bill would have led to better transparency for interpreter and jury expenditure.

To read more of this article courtesy of KRWG—>click here


Summary of HHS’s Proposed Rule on Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities


New rules concerning Limited English Proficiency  (LEP’s) to be released shortly.

This is the original draft summary courtesy of the Kaiser Family foundation…but sources have confirmed the bill is “forthcoming” and will be “published” shortly

To read more of these new initiatives from the Department of Health —-> click here.

For more information on LEP’s from the Department of Health visit their website —->HHS website on LEP



59 languages spoken in S. Seattle: Clinic’s diverse midwives help diverse moms –via Seattle Times

Midwife Faisa Farole examines (Stuteville's son) Malcolm Stonehill 

Midwife Faisa Farole examines (Stuteville’s son) Malcolm Stonehill

I was entering the third day of labor when they told me I’d have to have a C-section. I was exhausted and scared, shaking under bright white lights as a team of masked strangers crowded around the bed prepping me for surgery. Other than my husband, the only person whose face seemed kind in that moment was that of my midwife.

I’ve spent the last two months since that day getting to know my new son. While that time with him has been amazing (if sleep-deprived), the experience of bringing him into this world was one of the most intense of my life.

Then I try to imagine how much scarier it would have been if I’d had nurses, doctors and midwives who didn’t speak my language or understand my culture. That’s what Jodilyn Owen and a team of midwives and health professionals are trying to provide at a new clinic in South Seattle.

“A woman who is from Ethiopia sits with an Ethiopian midwife — she doesn’t have to explain herself,” says Owen, midwife and co-founder of the South Seattle Women’s Health Foundation. “That’s a profound form of health care.”

To read more of this article courtesy of The Seattle Times —>click here

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

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