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By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Washakie Medical Center offers interpreters


April 8, 2017

Tracie Mitchell

Banner Health Washakie Medical Center interpreters licensed practical nurse Patty Tapia, the VRI (Video Remote Interpretation) and emergency department technician Star (Estrellita) Vazquez stand together in the conference room of the hospital Friday morning.

WORLAND – Banner Health Washakie Medical Center staff members; Star (Estrellita) Vazquez, emergency department technician and Patty Tapia, licensed practical nurse recently completed certification in the Banner Health Spanish language assistance program to be interpreters for the Spanish speaking population of the community.

"They both really care about people and want to help people and to be an interpreter, especially in a medical setting; you have to have that heart to be able to do that. Sometimes you are interpreting messages that are not easy so it's really important that they go through the class and that they are prepared to be able to interpret even if the message that they are helping to communicate might not be the best of news," Banner Health Washakie Medical Center CNO (chief nursing officer) LeGay Parks stated.

Both women are fluent in Spanish but the classes, 40 hours of training, gave fluency a whole new meaning. "I considered myself very fluent in medical terminology but with the class it was at a whole different level of fluency. You say the proper medical terminology as you are supposed to, but in Spanish there is a million different dialects, so if you have a person that doesn't understand the medical terminology, you have to try to explain to them, what it means. It definitely goes far beyond just the medical terminology," Tapia said.

Vazquez added, "Depending on the people that speak Spanish, the level of education, they use different words."

Parks explained that as interpreters the women need to translate verbatim and not just give a summary of what was said by the patient or the doctor and that the classes teach that. She also explained why having family members translate isn't always in the best interest of the patient. "We try to avoid using family members as

interpreters because we can't verify that they are interpreting verbatim. So we can't verify that the patient got all of the information that they needed or that the physician got all of the information that they needed. We encourage family members to be in there with them [patients] so that they are all on the same page, if that's what they [patients] want but we try to use certified interpreters so that we know that the information is going back and forth verbatim. Sometimes if it's a family member they may summarize and maybe leave something out that might have been important or they may make assumptions or they may just love their loved one and think, 'I don't want to tell them that because it's going to make them sad.'"

Vazquez stated, "What I came to find out is that the words that I used were used correctly but sometimes you have to know how to use them correctly, verbatim. When I enter the room I introduce myself as a Spanish language assistant to the doctor and I also introduce myself in Spanish to the patient. Whatever the patient says to the doctor I have to repeat to the doctor in English. I am the patient's voice."

Having someone who speaks your language when you are in an emergency situation creates calmness for the patients and their family. "[Patients] have this relief on their face when they learn that I speak Spanish," Tapia said. "The in-person interpretation is more personal, and for women's health issues, it feels more private," she added.

It is not only Spanish speaking people that the hospital can accommodate. The hospital also has a VRI (video remote interpreter) that they can use. According to a Banner Health press release, In addition to the services offered by Vazquez and Tapia, Washakie (Medical Center) also provides VRI services, which are video conferenced interpreters available on a computer screen or tablet in real time. Providers can use VRI 24 hours a day, seven days a week for more than 200 spoken languages, in addition to American Sign Language (ASL), to use interpreters via a live, web-based video conference with medically trained and certified interpreters.

For many languages only audio is available but for most commonly used languages patients can see and speak with their interpreter, giving the patient a more personal and for some a more trusting experience.

The hospital also has taken steps to make things easier for patients who are hearing impaired or deaf with amplifiers that look a lot like a pair of head phones, the VRI, special cards that can be used to help identify what is wanted or needed and sheets with commonly used words that the patients can point to to communicate more effectively with the staff.

"At Banner Health, we continue to invest in our interpretation services for both the deaf community as well as limited English proficient patients," said Banner Corporate Language and Cultural Services senior manager Paula Harsin.


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