Language Translation Services Come To Area Hospitals
April 26, 2002
By Jose L. Llanes
If you dont speak English, and you dont 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 projects 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 dont 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
The study established the high human and economic cost that language
barriers produce in patients, hospitals, clinics, and health insurance
Translated by Miriam M. Suarez
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