Expert translators have played a huge, helpful role in the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of this global crisis, efficient and clear communication has been crucial. Interpreters work in almost every context you can think of, from schools to businesses and medical facilities. Translation in hospitals and emergency rooms is vital and can be life-saving.
Medical interpreters work with doctors and can provide an essential layer of help for people who are suffering. Putting themselves at risk, they may be the only point of connection and clarity for people who have fallen sick and cannot themselves communicate their symptoms or needs. This is absolutely a crucial and important service. There are several additional ways that translation and interpreters have helped patients who may have COVID-19.
During a worldwide illness like COVID-19, interpreters and culturally competent professionals are a vital resource. Clear communication during a health crisis can make the difference between the right treatment and even survival rates. In 2018, 67.3 million people in the United States speak a language other than English. This number has nearly tripled since 1980. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality—a department of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—has standards for medical interpreters. These professionals are to exhibit accuracy, confidentiality, cultural awareness and advocacy.
Medical interpreters in a hospital may be staffed or contract positions. These interpreters help health care providers overcome language barriers. In the absence of bilingual clinicians, these professionally trained interpreters can provide seamless exchanges between doctors and patients. From recording medical history to reporting symptoms, this is an important service without which many people would suffer greatly.
Due to the way COVID-19 symptoms escalate quickly and dangerously, emergency services must be as efficient and effective as possible. Interpreter services in emergency medicine seek to reduce language barriers and any delay that comes from not being able to communicate. One study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine found that emergency rooms use numerous staff people for this role:
- Multilingual medical staff
- Professional interpreters
- Mobile computer technology bedside
Properly utilizing these resources can drastically alter outcomes for individual patients. An ER translator can improve communication and patient satisfaction as well as provide cost savings.
Emergency Response and Phone Translators
Emergency rooms and other emergency medical services also use remote and phone translators. When someone is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or any other illness, they may need to speak to someone right away to determine whether they should come to the hospital and risk exposing other people to the virus. This urgency requires competent and immediate translation for people who do not speak English.
In some states, emergency services use 24-hour language services, like Voiance. This can provide translation for numerous languages without a wait. States recognize the impracticality of staffing a call center with people who speak every conceivable dialect. Outsourcing to mobile translators who can jump in when needed is invaluable for emergency response.
Video Remote Interpreting Services
Medical translators often put themselves at risk as essential, patient-facing personnel. While there are precautions in place to guard them against infection, there are also alternative options to in-person services. Video remote interpreting services are offered through telehealth applications. This is done via wifi connection over a video call. Simple, safe and straightforward, this process is being increasingly implemented by medical facilities nationwide. Interpreters can work from home, still offering a needed level of support for patients while themselves staying safe from exposure. Go here to learn more about Translators USA’s VRIS services.