THURSTON TALK: By  Mary Ellen Psaltis

Imagine being a person needing urgent medical care, but you don’t speak the language. More than 25 million Americans have limited English proficiency (LEP). Providence St. Peter Hospital, an integral part of our community for decades, not only believes everyone ought to have access to an interpreter for optimal communication, but provides the services that accomplish this. Elsie Rodriguez Paz is the coordinator of interpretive services for both Providence St. Peter Hospital and Providence Centralia Hospital. She has previously served as a community medical interpreter and truly understands the value for all involved.

Providence uses community interpreters, telephonic interpreters and video remote interpreter (VRI) devices throughout the hospital using a service called INDEMAND Interpreting or INDE for short. Interpreters are standing by at all hours to live stream with the caregiver and patient. There are 28 languages available for face-to-face communicating, which adds the ability for people to communicate not only with words, but also with facial expressions and body gestures. There are over 200 languages available through the telephonic interpreter service. Providence also offers a telephonic interpreter service that specializes in indigenous languages. Sign language is frequently used as part of the program, too and community ASL interpreters are available upon patient request. In our area the most requested languages are Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Cambodian.

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