Texas Providers Concerned That Bill Seeking To Establish Health Translation Service Hotline Will Not Be Widely Used
Some providers in Texas are questioning the usefulness of a bill (HB 161), approved by the Texas House Committee on Public Health, that would create a 24-hour translation service hotline for all health care providers in the state, the McAllen Monitor reports. Under the bill, five full-time Spanish translators would be available at any given time to any health care professional. The measure would cost the state about $290,000 over the next five years to employ the translators and pay for the equipment. Some local health workers in the Rio Grande Valley area, which is predominately Hispanic, say that the service might go unused because most of the staff is bilingual, according to the Monitor. "(Virtually) all of our employees speak Spanish, so we don't have communications gaps with families," Christy Escandon, assistant administrator for the Edinburg Children's Hospital, said. State Rep. Veronica Gonzales (D), who introduced the bill, said the measure likely would not affect hospitals such as Edinburg and Valley Regional Medical Center, which maintains an internal list of staff members who speak several languages to call when interpretation services are needed. However, Gonzales said the bill also will "be applicable to not just hospitals but to people that are in the medical field who work at doctors offices, clinics or home health -- basically any place that provides medical services." Tomas Perez, a registered nurse at Edinburgh, said the hotline could help in translating medical jargon, adding, "Sometimes, I'll be translating something between a doctor and a patient and there's terminology I get stuck on. So this would even help Spanish speakers ... when it comes down to deeper diagnosis." However, Perez said he likely would not use the hotline to deliver bad news to a patient. The measure must now pass the full House and Senate (McKenzie, McAllen Monitor, 4/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.