Hospitals in Connecticut, Oklahoma Seek To Address Language Barriers in Health Care Through Interpretation Programs
The following summarizes recent news coverage of language interpretation services at hospitals in Connecticut and Oklahoma.
- Connecticut: The Connecticut Department of Social Services has sent letters to state hospitals requesting information about each facility's use of interpretation services, the Connecticut Post reports. According to the Post, a "growing number of Connecticut hospitals are relying on certified medical interpreters ... to act as intermediaries, conveying critical patient information to doctors and vice versa." The state's request for information will help officials assess the need for the services, the Post reports. The Connecticut Health Foundation estimates that hospitals in the state spend about $4.7 million on interpretation services annually. Patricia Baker, executive director of the foundation, said the state's Medicaid program does not allow hospitals to bill for interpretation services, meaning that hospitals must absorb much of the cost. The Post featured Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Conn., which recently signed a five-year contract with Ohio-based Language Access Network to receive video-based interpretation services on demand in any foreign language, as well as sign language. According to the Post, "71 languages and an untold number of dialects are spoken" in the city, and more than 53,000 residents have limited English proficiency (Brown, Connecticut Post, 5/7).
- Oklahoma: The Oklahoman on Sunday examined the growing need for interpretation services in Oklahoma hospitals and profiled efforts to provide those services at Oklahoma University Medical Center. According to the Oklahoman, the state's hospitals "have various ways of serving non-English speakers, from trained interpreters on the phone -- called 'language lines' -- to using nonmedical bilingual employees." OU Medical Center employs 12 interpreters trained in medical terminology who take calls from staff in need of interpretation services. The interpreters also meet with patients. The center averages 2,000 to 2,200 interpretation sessions monthly, up from 300 monthly when the interpretation program began four years ago. Migali Salazar, interpretation services coordinator for the hospital, said the interpreters also help increase cultural competency at the hospital (Raymond, Oklahoman, 5/4).