Language Translation System Helps Get Better Medical Care

Posted on: 12/01/2010

Methodist Healthcare System is dismantling the language barrier with a new translation system. A state-of-the-art interpretation service makes communication with anyone from any country easier.

When you are in the hospital, time is of the essence. The last thing you want to worry about is whether the health care professionals can understand you.

“It’s very frustrating if you are trying to take care of a patient and you can’t ascertain the information that you need to make the appropriate choices in their care,” said Pam Dwyer, RN, director of nursing operations.

Methodist is the first hospital system in the southern U.S. to offer this service, a connection to interpreters within 15 seconds of dialing the phone. Hospital personnel dial up an office in Philadelphia where thousands of certified medical interpreters are available to help speed up the question and answer process.

Patients are happy for the help. “They are surprised. They are happy. They feel relief,” explained Tatiana Sultzbach, manager of diversity and inclusion. “And what better way than to be able to communicate your health care issues in the language you prefer.”

Web cams enable deaf interpretation on the spot. Where there used to be delays of an hour or two for language help, that aid is now immediate.

“We love it. We absolutely love it,” stated Dwyer. “It is essential to taking care of our patients in a timely manner.”

“We’re here not only to service the people who speak English, but everybody who needs it,” added Sultzbach.

The top five languages used by Methodist so far are Spanish, Burmese, American Sign Language, Arabic and Swahili.

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