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Spanish Language Translation Services Come To Area Hospitals

From Hoy
April 26, 2002

By Jose L. Llanes

If you don’t speak English, and you don’t have health insurance pay attention to "Language Access Project" the new proposal launched in Manhattan by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

The project’s goal is to eliminate the language barriers that prevent thousands of New Yorkers from having access to better health services in hospitals and clinics, and higher quality health insurance. It also attempts to promote the need of federal and state laws to implement this necessity.

The program was announced by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest together with a study published in Boston that confirmed that individuals with language limitations face difficulties in getting medical attention and lack suitable medical advice.

"Hospitals and other medical institutions are obligated to provide adequate translation for all patients," said Rose Cuison-Villazor, a lawyer for the project. "To not give these resources is to deprive the consumer from the care they need and deserve."

The study which interviewed 4,000 patients without insurance in the United States - many of them Bronx residents - revealed that more than 25 percent of those who needed a translator did not have one in their visits to the hospital.

Consequently, many of the patients who were given

Prescriptions but did not understand the instructions on how to take them. "How can there be appropriate medical attention if the patients don’t understand the doctors and nurses?" said Marianne Engelman Lado of the organization.

The Language Access Project is not an entirely new, and in the past has given legal and technical assistance to community groups that represent immigrants who fight for their rights.

"Hospitals have to expand their capacity to communicate with all New Yorkers and by law translators should be readily available to all those who need it," said Adam Gurvich of the New York Immigration Coalition.

The study established the high human and economic cost that language barriers produce in patients, hospitals, clinics, and health insurance providers.

Translated by Miriam M. Suarez

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