Category Archives: National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI)

Resettlement starts with access to screenings and healthcare –via The Concodian

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Dipshikha Dahal, the refugee coordinator at Family HealthCare center, enters the birth date, Social Security number and address of the refugee sitting across from the desk from her, an Iraqi refugee dressed in a black hijab and a long dress that covers everything but her face. She came to Fargo alone. She quietly states the answers Dipshikha asks. A medical interpreter sits next to the refugee, looking directly at her while relaying Dipshikha’s questions. The interpreter is also from Iraq, but her hijab and dress look as if they were splattered with a multicolored paintbrush.

Every day, at Family Health Care and other medical centers in the local Fargo-Moorhead area, medical interpreters are building bridges of communication for refugees who are trying to create lives separate from the horrors they experienced at home. Medical interpreters like the one helping the Iraqi woman and Jasmine Gehrig, FHC’s medical interpreters manager, are creating more than communication. Gehrig is building a community that she can be proud of by helping refugees find the life they hope to live through her interpreting and the kind acts she does outside of her job description

When resettling in the Fargo-Moorhead area, most refugees’ first stop is the Family Health Care on New American Day, a refugee clinic set up two to three times a month. Here, they receive vaccinations and medical appointments for any personal health concerns. In able to understand what’s happening to them in this new culture, New Americans need someone to interpret their appointments and paperwork. That is where the medical interpreter comes in.

Dipshikha works with all New Americans who come in for the New American clinic. Refugees usually begin by registering with Dipshikha before their first health screening in the U.S.  The interpreters help relay information as refugees go through different stages in the medical clinic. During an appointment with nurse Marlene Espejo, the interpreter and the refugee go over a series of questions to create a current medical history. The interpreter then assists the refugee during the rest of the process by helping him or her understand their shots, blood work and vision and hearing checks. After New American Day, interpreters continue to be there for their patients, within and beyond the walls of FHC.

Since Gehrig has been at FHC, she has helped several refugees make their way through the American medical process. She came to the U.S. from Bosnia in 2001 and was later hired at FHC as a Bosnian medical interpreter for one year. After that she was promoted to management. Since then, she has been managing the interpreters department for nine or ten years.

“We are a little family. We really care for one another,” Gehrig said. “All of us came from a third country because of war or abuse and want to make the best of our lives in a wonderful country.”

Gehrig and her team want to help the refugees do the same by providing them with their interpretive services and skills. Many of the interpreters were refugees and have already gone through the process of settling into the Fargo-Moorhead community. Now that they are in a place to contribute to their new home, Gehrig and her team have decided their mission is to serve everybody, especially New Americans and refugees.

According to Gehrig, the main populations served by FHC are Nepali, Somali and Arabic speaking refugees.  FHC has 25 interpreters, all New Americans. They speak 10 languages including Arabic, Bosnian, Kurdish, Nepali, Vietnamese, Kirundi, Swahili, Somali, Spanish and Kinyarwanda. Other languages can be reached through a language phone line.

The complexities of medical interpreting

The service medical interpreters provide to their clients is quite different from that of a social interpreter. Social interpreters, such as education or community interpreters, will receive only one version of training to serve the community. In the medical field, interpreters need to not only learn the cultures they are assisting, but specific medical terminology as well, Gehrig said.

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

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Lost In Translation: How Foreign-Speaking Patients Suffer Without Medical Interpreters –via WBUR

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** ADVANCE FOR TUESDAY, NOV. 16 ** Medical interpreter Carmen Diaz, right, interprets for Spanish-speaking patient Romualdo Rivera at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Sept. 1, 2004. Temple University is among 10 sites in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Hablamos Juntos program that received grants to hire and train Spanish interpreters. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)

Lost In Translation: How Foreign-Speaking Patients Suffer Without Medical Interpreters

By Dr. David Scales

When I met Mr. Y., he was sitting up in bed, sweating and breathing quickly. An elderly, Russian-speaking man, he was admitted to the cardiology ward at a large hospital where I was working. His blood pressure was dangerously high and he struggled to breathe. His fear was instantly apparent in his wide blue eyes. Panting, he told us that he had liver pain, pointing to just below the ribs on his right side.

It’s unusual for patients to complain about liver pain. In broken English, Mr. Y. explained that it began after starting new blood pressure medications a few months ago. But his chest X-ray told a different story. His lungs were drowning in fluid — the likely reason why he was so out of breath — and that couldn’t have been caused by the medications he was so worried about. Having already perused his laboratory results, his condition seemed like a straightforward case of heart failure, but I quickly realized admitting Mr. Y. would be linguistically and culturally complex.

I needed to understand what made him so short of breath, and why he thought his medications caused the problem. But no in-person interpreter was available for another hour and a half. The telephone interpreting service at this hospital was designed to be accessible — the interpreter can be paged from any hospital telephone and should call back. Yet, no one had called back after my two attempts. I imagined they were busy interpreting for other patients. In the meantime, Mr. Y. continued to pant and sweat, leaning forward in bed to help his breathing.

Reluctantly, I asked his adult daughter if she would interpret for me. She agreed, but was clearly reticent; her hesitance and discomfort apparent as she stumbled over questions about her father’s recent urinary and bowel habits. While I speak no Russian, I became suspicious of misunderstandings when she interpreted my question about previous “heart failure” as “infarkt,” which sounds like a medical term for a heart attack.

I know of studies showing patients suffer when clinicians do not use interpreters or use untrained, informal interpreters like family members. I learned this during medical interpreter training and in my own experience volunteering as an Arabic interpreter with Iraqi refugees in New Haven and Syrian refugees in Jordan. As was the case with Mr. Y.’s daughter, family members may struggle to interpret accurately when family or cultural expectations are upset by medically routine, but personally embarrassing questions.

“Family members may struggle to interpret accurately when family or cultural expectations are upset by medically routine, but personally embarrassing questions.”

I know of studies showing patients suffer when clinicians do not use interpreters or use untrained, informal interpreters like family members. I learned this during medical interpreter training and in my own experience volunteering as an Arabic interpreter with Iraqi refugees in New Haven and Syrian refugees in Jordan. As was the case with Mr. Y.’s daughter, family members may struggle to interpret accurately when family or cultural expectations are upset by medically routine, but personally embarrassing questions.

As a trained interpreter myself, it is painful and frustrating when good interpreter services are not available. But it isn’t just a dearth of interpreters — it’s also a lack of time that presents challenges to providing good care to non-English speakers. If I had a leisurely day I could have waited or returned, but on an adrenaline-fueled day on call, waiting for the interpreter was not possible. I had to balance my limited time with Mr. Y. against preparing for the three other patients I expected to be admitted at any minute. Worried this would be my only chance to hear his story, I put my interpreter training aside.

To read more of this article courtesy of WPR Boston’s NPR—>click here

 

Medical Interpreters Speak for New American Patients –via Seven Days

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A woman rushes to a hospital after taking her baby’s temperature. In English, she tells the nurse that her child has been crying nonstop and is burning up. She begs to see a doctor. The nurse turns to her colleagues and other patients and speaks in an unidentifiable language, presumably asking if anyone understands English. Most give blank stares. A patient speaks a few words to the mother but backs off when he reaches the limits of his English proficiency. By now, the mother is hysterical and desperate.

That’s the scenario depicted in a public service announcement video from the Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters & Translators, produced in 2010. It concludes by telling viewers that 8 percent of U.S. citizens, or 25 million Americans, speak limited English. The video clip is one of an array of materials that Lynette Reep, interpreter coordinator at the University of Vermont Medical Center, uses to educate her colleagues about the challenges that deaf patients or those with limited English proficiency (LEP) face when accessing health care.

To drive home her message, Reep also cites famous cases of tragic outcomes that resulted from inadequate language access. One such incident took place in 1980 in South Florida. Eighteen-year-old baseball player Willie Ramirez became quadriplegic after a misunderstanding of a single word led to a misdiagnosis and erroneous treatment. A resultant lawsuit led to a settlement of $71 million.

Reep’s position at UVM Medical Center was created just a year ago; before that, technical training for the clinical staff revolved around use of phone interpreters or an app. “Burlington, historically, is not a community that necessarily had a huge need for interpreting services,” Reep said. “But over the last 20 years or so, we’ve had refugees resettled here.”

According to statistics provided by the medical center, the percentage of LEP patients has risen over the past three years from 1.25 to 1.38 percent. Each week, the medical center receives about 16 requests for ASL interpreters and 200 for spoken-language interpreters. The three languages for which interpretation is most often requested are Nepali, Bosnian and Arabic.

Reep, 55, said it is her mission to “provide language access in the interest of patient safety and to educate the organization as a whole about the link between language access and patient safety.” This means creating a culture in which trained medical interpreters are seen as part of the treatment team.

“It’s really important that patients and providers understand that,” Reep said. Even though the interpreters don’t provide care, she added, “they are the mechanism through which care is being provided.”

To read more of this article courtesy of Seven Days—->click here

In 2016, Health Care Providers are Required to Work with Certified or Qualified Medical Interpreters —OHCIA

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Oregon Health Bill 2419 has been revised for 2016 to include a requirement that health care providers work with certified or qualified health care interpreters whenever possible.

It is important for all health care interpreters to complete the certification and qualification process as soon as possible.

To read more of the Oregon bill with OHCIA—–>click here

Lobbying for Medical Interpreters in Congress

Lobbying for national language access reimbursement for all States.

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