The Importance of Interpretation Services

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At Culmore Clinic, our patients are our priority. As our clinic has grown over the past few years, we’ve noticed the importance of some of services. Our Interpretation Services in particular can largely impact a patient’s appointment.

The importance of Interpretation Services is not always recognized. At some places, a doctor will know “some Spanish” or the patient’s child is used in lieu of a fluent interpreter. These methods are very flawed. Children don’t always possess the vocabulary necessary to express their parents’ issues and parents often downplay the severity of their problem when having to explain it through their child. And while it’s always good to know “some Spanish”, a basic knowledge is not enough when discussing medical issues. In the word’s of Executive Director, Terry O’Hara Lavoie, “To make a difference, you’ve got to do more.”

We’ve seen the difference that an interpreter can make. Culmore Clinic Interpreter, and June Volunteer of the Month, Caroline Hilkirk was providing interpretation services for a patient when she realized something was off. Caroline could tell from the patient’s word choice that he was minimizing his pain and after talking to him further in his native language, she was able to find out what was really wrong.

Terry says experiences like Caroline’s happen often and highlight the importance of our Interpreter Services:

“Our patients don’t advocate for themselves. They know our clinic is free, they know they don’t speak the language, and they start to see themselves as lesser people which is very sad. But, by having a compassionate person in the room with them, talking to them in their language, our patients become more trusting. That’s when you can really help someone. That’s what our standard is, that’s what we deliver for our patients”