Florida County’s Need for Interpreters Increases as Hispanics’ Use of Health Services Grows
In Marion County, Fla., "despite the Hispanic population's growing use of public health services, ... there are not enough interpreters to meet" the growing demand, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.
Johnny Thompson, public information officer at the Marion County Health Department, said, "Less than five years ago, 3% of the population that we served in the health department was Hispanic. Now, in 2007, 33% is Hispanic."
According to the Star-Banner, language barriers can increase the risk for misinterpretation, as well as lead to longer visits, delays in obtaining care and patients not adhering to treatment regimens.
The county's limited budget has prevented it from hiring more full-time interpreters, instead it relies on volunteers, according to Sheila Storlie, the health department's volunteer coordinator. According to Storlie, about 25 volunteers who have been trained in medical interpretation work part-time at county clinics (Hernandez/Sowti, Ocala Star-Banner, 5/14).