Translators Help Marin General Patients
Patricio Tapia, instructor, who has led Spanish classes for employees
at Marin General for over a year, answers a question for Mary Duffy.
Marin General Progress
It's 11 a.m. Someone in the Emergency Department needs a staff person who speaks Vietnamese. The MGH operator checks the hospital's foreign language registry, of over 125 MGH employees who collectively speak about 50 different languages. If there is no one available, the MGH operator immediately places a call to the AT&T Language Line.
Within several minutes of the initial request, the Emergency Department physician and nurses, through a translator via speaker phone, can communicate with the Vietnamese-speaking patient.
The above scenario occurs about 30 to 50 times a week, according to Robert Warrington, supervisor of MGH Telecommunications. "Ultimately we can always supply an interpreter whether in house or through AT&T," he said.
While 90 percent of the requests for an interpreter are for Hispanic patients, Marin General also gets requests for Japanese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and other languages spoken by recent immigrants or visitors to Marin County.
With the hospital staffs need to communicate with an increasing number of Spanish-speaking patients, the MGH Education department began scheduling conversational Spanish language classes over a year ago. Classes are designed to equip health care workers with conversational skills needed in the medical setting.
Of the 100 MGH health care providers who have taken the Spanish language classes, about 20 are now speaking Spanish on a daily basis, according to a recent class evaluation.