By Logistic Specialist Seaman Squadrito S. Giovanni, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Since January 2011, Naval Medical Center San Diego's (NMCSD) Patient Relations department has been able to improve patient care by providing 185 sign language and non-English interpreting services to beneficiaries.
Patient Relations advocate Liezl Leyco is in charge of meeting patients and staff needs at NMCSD whenever an interpreter is requested to assist with communication between staff and beneficiaries. When language barriers hinder customer care, Leyco will contact interpreting services, which are contracted to the hospital. On call interpreters play a vital role in accommodating patients and customers that are not-proficient in English or are hearing impaired. It also ensures that staff and providers accurately understand the needs and concerns for their patients by removing language barriers.
"Our [Patient Relations] purpose is to establish policies and procedures in achieving language acceptability and accommodation to every individual with limited English proficiency," said Leyco.
There are a wide variety of foreign language or sign language interpreting services that can be requested. Some of the more common language requests include Spanish, French, Thai, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, American Sign Language or tac-tile sign language for beneficiaries that are hearing and visually impaired.
During normal operating hours Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patient Relations can be contacted to request a sign or foreign language interpreter for face to face interpreting or over the phone interpreting.
If face to face interpretation is preferred, requests are asked to be made 24 hours prior to the appointment to allow ample time to ensure availability of interpreters. Face to face interpretations can be requested on shorter notice but there is no guarantee for same day service. The most accessible form of interpretation is over the phone interpretations which can be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even NMCSD's branch health and dental clinics can utilize interpreter services. After hours requests for interpreters are routed through NMCSD's Directorate for Healthcare Business duty personnel or the quarterdeck staff who will arrange interpreting services.
"Closing the gap of communication barriers enhances the flow of important information to beneficiaries and helps staff better understand concerns, needs or questions that may arise during the provision of services," said Leyco.
More than 350 beneficiaries have used interpreting services since Leyco took over the program in August 2010. In addition, Patient Relations also can arrange for foreign medical documents for staff needing vital medical history or information as well as communicating with family members requesting status updates of a patient admitted to the hospital. To request an interpreter Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. please call the Patient Relations department at 619-532-6418. After hours please call 619-532-6400.
For more information on NMCSD's Patient Relations department visit: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Patients/Pages/default.aspx