Content derived from Kimberly Back, Director of Patient Access at Valley Medical Center
Valley Medical Center provides interpreter services for our patients free of charge. Part of the new-patient registration process includes finding out what a patient’s primary language is, as well as their preferred language for speaking with their provider. If there is a language barrier present and they prefer an interpreter, we will provide interpreter services for any patient. Most of Valley’s interpreter services are provided remotely through video and services can be provided in hundreds of languages. Because the services take place over video, it is easier for the patient, interpreter and provider to all make sure everyone is understanding each other.
Originally, most interpreter services were provided by in-person interpreters, who would need to be scheduled in advance. This worked well, however, sometimes there weren’t enough interpreters available or last-minute cancellations by both patients and interpreters caused scheduling problems. When an interpreter was not available, it was challenging to decide if it was best to proceed with the appointment or use a family member as an interpreter. Family members’ input is highly appreciated and valued, but sometimes we also want an experienced interpreter present to explain medical issues even if the family member would like to act as the main interpreter. It’s important that the patient receiving care is able to understand the provider’s recommendations, details of their care plan, and that the patient is able to communicate their needs and wishes effectively.
Even though Valley has been providing interpreter services for a long time, our newer virtual interpreter services allow for more clear communication and an improved patient experience. No scheduling is required, the video works well, and there has been positive feedback from both providers and patients. Valley has about 250 devices equipped for video interpretive services, in every clinic and hospital department—so no matter where patients need translation services, they are available. The top languages spoken at Valley are Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic, and Punjabi. If a language is not available through the video resource, additional languages are available by telephone instead.
Even though a family member can be available to translate for a patient, one of the benefits of having a professional interpreter present for medical care is that some of the terminology can be difficult to translate from language to language. Our video and telephone interpreters are medically experienced and able to make sure the patient and care team understand each other in even the most complex medical situations.
Watch the video above to see the provider and patient talking and learn how the video interpreter services may help you or someone you care about during an in-person patient appointment. For more information about how Valley is striving to help patients fluent in other languages find their way around the hospital campus, read here. Also, learn more here about how you can use the feature Google Translate to easily translate any of the web pages on the VMC website into your preferred language.