Covenant Medical battling language barriers for non-English spea

Covenant Medical battling language barriers for non-English speaking patients

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Language barriers have long been an issue in the health care field. More than 46 million people in the United States do not speak English as their primary language and a language gap can cause serious miscommunication between doctors and patients.

People who have limited English proficiency are less likely to have a regular source of primary care. They're also less likely to receive preventive care, according to the National Institutes of Health. Covenant Medical doctors are using a team to ensure nothing's lost in translation.

"Being able to help people is very rewarding it is very satisfying when you show up to a room to assist one of our patients," Rafael Marin, who leads the team of interpreters said. "They are so happy to be able to communicate and ask questions, to be able to understand what is going on and what is going to happen."

Covenant Medical consist of about 15 qualified medical interpreters, most of them are nurses or technicians who work in different areas of the hospital. 

"I translate Tagalog or Filipino," said Catherine Albano, a nurse educator at Covenant. "We have patients sometimes that come into the hospital and sometimes don't have family that come in with them and so I help with that."

Along with it's team of interpreters Covenant also relies on technology to assist it's patients. 

"We have a contract with a company called Pacific Interpreters, we can utilize this small device called vocera," Marin said."It's really easy to use you just press the home button once and you say call Pacific Interpreters and an interpreter will be on the other side helping you."

The hospital also uses a dual set phone and electronic tablets through these gadgets covenant has access to more than 250 languages. 

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