Building a Language Services Program from the Bottom Up

A local, nationally recognized hospital system and Level-1 Trauma center needed a solution—a significant number of their patient population was not English speaking, and it was critical to build a language access program. With a huge responsibility and a finite budget, where would they begin? Taking the first step in such a large institution would be a huge undertaking, and partnering with a company that could truly understand the hospital culture as well as provide top-notch language translation and interpreting was critical.

Our company worked alongside this hospital as they grew a full-fledged language service department. Starting with a two-week assignment, we built trust and responded to every need of our new client, listening and building upon each request and inquiry this client had. Together, we were able to provide a cost-effective, high quality solution.

Within one year, we had several interpreters and translators in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic on 24-hour call with this hospital as we learned the peak languages, high volume departments, and request times of this system. Our team members took time before, during, and after assignments to debrief with our administrative leaders on specifics of what objectives were, who key contacts were, and how we could ensure a successful program.

By year four, our company was connected to the hospital system’s 200 satellite offices, providing over 50 different languages in approved team members. Stakeholders from the CEO to the Head of the Emergency Department commented on how our medical interpreters rendered information accurately and completely from English and other languages. Even more importantly, our staff was in complete awareness and compliance of the particular hospital procedures and policies. Patient confidentiality, informed consent and strict adherence to the NCIHC Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Today, this hospital has a full language services department, including a core staff of 15 language interpreters, 3 of whom were originally part of our team. Full-time interpreters are supported by our team, who provides on-demand 24-hour availability support. Additionally, the hospital has access to on-demand video-remote and telephonic interpretation services, and our team has served as trainers for their bilingual staff who wish to dual-role as interpreters.