When Maggie Myers is caring for a Spanish-speaking patient, she doesn’t have to be concerned about something being lost in the translation.
Myers is a board-certified advanced practice registered nurse at St. Rose Health Center, which recently began using the services of LanguageLine Solutions.
The company’s professional translators are available to St. Rose any time via iPad Air video technology. All parties involved can see one another on the screen.
“It is like having an interpreter in the room with you,” Myers said. “In the past, we used a regular phone line to bring an interpreter into conversations. My patients and I had to pass the phone back and forth.
“Needless to say, that was cumbersome,” Myers continued. “And I felt disconnected from my patient. This new system is so much better and the interpreters are well-versed in medical terminology.”
This is especially important when common medical terms sound very similar in at least one of the languages – if not both.
For example, the words “metatarsal” and “metacarpal” sound a lot a like. The former refers to bones in the foot, while the latter refers to bones in the hand.
“When this kind of terminology is involved, we can count on the LanguageLine people to make the distinction,” Myers said. “Precision is critical to finding the proper diagnosis and treatment.”
The translator’s command of English and Spanish also helps health-care providers more fully understand the patient’s concern. The provider may understand that the patient’s arm hurts but the interpreter can take it a step or two or three further.
“An interpreter recently helped me understand that a patient’s arm pain was radiating up to her shoulder, which of course is important to know,” Myers commented.
The new system also allows patients to feel more comfortable relaying background information that Myers and other St. Rose providers need to know.
“The interpreter helps us build an even better rapport with patients,” Myers explained. “Now they feel more comfortable expanding on their concerns. Previously, they might not have wanted to bother because they didn’t think it was essential.
“But any information is important,” she added. “It helps us consider the whole person and not just one particular issue.”
Another advantage is a patient’s peace of mind. For instance, if the health-care provider has to leave the room for a few minutes, the interpreter stays on the line with the patient. They can see one another and the patient knows exactly what is happening.
While LanguageLine translators are based all over the world, St. Rose works with its team in Costa Rica. An interpreter there said “it is amazing to see how we can help facilitate communications.”
When asked if she had special training in the medical field, she smiled, nodded her head repeatedly and referred to her education as “extensive.”
Myers noted that LanguageLine employs only full-time linguists who are accredited professionals.
The system is cost effective because it reduces unnecessary testing and results in a clear understanding of treatment and prognosis.
St. Rose specializes in primary care, prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine, Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic, Great Bend Internists, imaging, Special Nursing Services, one-day surgical procedures, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. St. Rose is co-owned by Hays Medical Center and Centura Health