Fort Worth Business Press Looks at Medical Interpretation Services in North Texas
The Fort Worth Business Press on Monday examined language interpretation services at North Texas hospitals. According to the Business Press, at some North Texas hospitals, "[s]pecialized staff and a phone service for interpreting have made the hospital experience easier for those who" are not fluent in English. The JPS Health Network -- which sees a number of patients who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Burmese, Cambodian, French, Mandarin, Tagalog and Farsi -- has about 6,000 monthly encounters with non-English-speaking patients who are served by the network's own 23 medical interpreters. Another 300 encounters are handled by local contractors who provide interpretation services.
Under JPS' 2009 budget, the language services staff will increase to about 34 people, double the staff size in 2006, John Hayes, director of guest services, said. The hospital will spend $1.2 million in fiscal year 2009 on salaries for interpreters, up from $515,015 in 2007. Hayes said the need for more medical interpreters will increase as the demand grows.
JPS staff also relies on Language Line, a telephone-based interpretation service that offers interpretation for more than 170 languages. Hospital staff uses the service about 1,500 times a month, according to Hayes. All interpretation services, including Language Line, must ensure that the patient has a full understanding of their medical condition and receives home care instructions, prescription drug regimens and follow-up care information in their native language, Lisa Rey-Dodge, a nurse and patient advocate at Baylor All Saints Medical Center, said. The medical center also uses Language Line (Bassett, Fort Worth Business Press, 11/3).