Friday, March 28, 2008

In the Absence of Words

A new compilation of stories about the impact of interpreting on access health care services has been published by PALS for Health, funded by the California Endowment.

The project is titled In the Absence of Words, and includes some truly wonderful stories. Here are a few quotes:

"The interpreter was able to accurately relay all
of the doctor’s questions and thoroughly explain what I needed to know about my illness. I finally gained an understanding of my medical condition and progress, the treatment plan, and what I needed to be cautious about. This crucial understanding helped dispel my fears and drastically strengthened my faith in my own ability to recover and conquer the disease."

- Testimony of Mrs. Yong-Nan Wu, Language Ambassador, Chinese

"I wasn’t sure if I would be able to express myself, what I was going through, and whether I would be able to receive the care I needed. But my anxiety quickly turned into joy and hope when I learned that the staff had arranged for a professional interpreter to assist me. [...] Many of us, as patients, don’t know that we are entitled to interpretation services when we go to the doctor. Some providers and administrators may know that they need to provide this service, and yet they use untrained staff or anyone else to interpret matters about health that can be about life and death. The solution to these problems, I believe, is to have more training for medical interpreters and to educate the public as well as the providers."

- Testimony of an anonymous client, Japanese

"What I find most rewarding as a health care interpreter is seeing the look of relief on people’s faces when they know they are able to communicate and understand everything during the session with their doctor. They leave their appointment feeling assured that no question is left unanswered."

- Testimony of Ms. Ana Maria Garcia, PALS interpreter, Spanish

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