New Mexico Hospitals Aim to Provide Quality Interpreters
Providing medical interpreters for patients who do not speak English is a challenge for many hospitals. In New Mexico, 36.5 percent of the population speaks a language other than English at home. The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) reports that 16 percent of patient visits involve interpreters. UNMH has 15 staff interpreters for Spanish and three for Vietnamese. By comparison, in 2005 the hospital had only three interpreters, and patients often relied on bilingual staff who were not trained as medical interpreters. UNMH's Kristina Sanchez says being bilingual does not guarantee the skills to convey sensitive medical information in an appropriate way, and despite the growing number of interpreters, there has not been enough change over the years. UNMH has moved toward standardized testing to ensure patients have the same quality of interpreting services. In addition to staff interpreters, the hospital has trained 300 bilingual staff members using the national Bridging the Gap interpreter training program The course teaches cultural awareness, medical terminology, communication styles, and the role of an interpreter in a healthcare setting.
From "NM Hospitals Aim to Provide Quality Interpreters"
Associated Press (NY) (01/27/10) Schoenberg, Amanda
Source: ATA Newsbriefs - February 2010