Alegent Health’s Language Access Program Removes Barriers, Provides Understanding
Release Date: 09/14/2007

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Omaha, Neb.– Juan Mendoza speaks mainly Spanish but clearly understands what to expect while undergoing treatments for cancer. That’s because each time a nurse or physician comes to take Juan’s temperature or provide a consultation, an interpreter like Ricardo Perez is by his side. Perez is only one of many interpreters who make up Alegent Health’s Language Access Department and help eliminate language barriers between patients and their physicians.

“Seeing the faces of the patients light up with I come into the room is so rewarding,” said Perez. “They’re so relieved to know that they can now communicate, ask questions and understand the doctors and nurses.”

Commitment from interpreters like Perez makes it possible for Alegent Health to provide high quality, individualized care for the body, mind and spirit of every patient, no matter what language they speak. By making sure that patients better understand their health care, interpreters are also helping them to be more informed regarding treatment options and ultimately improving the patient experience.

Mendoza speaks a little English, but is reassured to have an interpreter with him during all of his appointments with a doctor. “I feel safe because someone who speaks my language will be with me,” Mendoza said. “Knowing that what I say will be interpreted correctly makes me feel confident and secure because my doctor will have the information he needs to provide me with accurate treatment.”

Alegent Health’s Language Access Department is able to provide in-person interpreters for 15 different languages and has access to professionals who are able to interpret more than 150 languages via phone. From Spanish to Somali, the Language Access Department is able to provide patients with interpreters who can help them understand the decisions they need to make concerning their health care. Language Access services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for patients and families who do not speak English as their first language.

“It is imperative to use a professionally trained interpreter to ensure effective communication between patient and health care provider,” said Kathleen Valle, manager Language Access. “Our job really is a testament to the Mission of Alegent Health. We are committed to caring for the body, mind and spirit of every individual and that begins with open lines of communication.”

Patients like Juan might not completely understand the language their doctor is speaking, but thanks to Alegent Health’s Language Access Department and interpreters like Ricardo Perez, they are able to understand exactly what their doctor is saying.