Michigan Hospitals to Study Interpreting Needs

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Michigan Hospitals to Study Interpreting Needs

Several Michigan hospitals are among 130 medical facilities selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to participate in an initiative to improve the quality of care for non-English-speaking patients. Saint Mary's Health Hospital in Grand Rapids has approximately 35,000 interpreting encounters with patients annually, while Muskegon's Mercy Health Partners hospital has 1,100 such encounters yearly. Under the foundation program, patients arriving at these two facilities, and at Allegan General near Kalamazoo, will be screened for their preferred dialect and tracked to ensure they have access to medical interpreters and translated documents. David Luna, vice-president of multicultural services at Saint Mary’s, says that most of the interpreting encounters in his hospital involve Spanish, Vietnamese, Burmese, Nepali, or Bosnian. He admits that sometimes "medical providers will be trying to use their high school Spanish, or enlisting the aid of family members who happen to be there. Those are not really appropriate procedures." Mercy Health Partners Employment and Diversity Director Cynthia Hines says that interpreting encounters at her hospital usually involve American Sign Language, Spanish, Bosnian, Vietnamese, or Arabic. She says the program, which will take place over 18 months, will include compiling and tracking data that will be studied by patient race, ethnicity, and/or language. "This raises the bar," Hines says. "We can't be 100% certain that we always catch those patients."

From "Do Hospital Patients Who Can't Speak English Need More Help? A New Initiative Aims to Help"
Grand Rapids Press (MI) (11/11/10) King, Kyla

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - November 2010


 

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