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Face-to-Face Medical Interpreters Prove Vital And Irreplaceable To The Medical Field And Beyond

As the CDC relaxes COVID restrictions for hospital systems and many other institutions,

Face-2-Face interpreters are re-integrating into the community to serve where they are needed most.

Brando J. Bond, CEO, Professional Interpreter and Translator at Bond Enterprise Language Services LLC, B.A.A.

Face-to-Face interpreters return to the workforce after Covid restraints proving as a vital necessity to medical care and many other fields.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on virtually every aspect of our lives. One area that has been particularly affected is interpretation services in hospitals. Between the years of 2020 to 2022, COVID-19 restrictions hindered medical care administered to patients with limited English proficiency, as face-to-face medical interpreters were placed on hold at many facilities, leaving only virtual options for interpretation services.

Face-to-face medical interpreters play a crucial role in the medical field and beyond. These interpreters are trained professionals who help bridge the communication gap between healthcare providers and patients who speak a different language by providing the highest quality of communication in the industry. They are vital in ensuring that patients receive the care and treatment they need, regardless of their language proficiency.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, many hospitals and healthcare facilities restricted the use of face-to-face medical interpreters in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. While this was an understandable precaution, it had a significant impact on patients who rely on interpretation services to communicate with their healthcare providers.

A study titled, "Challenges to Effective Communication and Mitigating Solutions among Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients with Limited English Proficiency and their Providers" by Kwon et al. (2021), was conducted to understand these communication barriers during COVID-19. Within the study an elderly Chinese-speaking patient with COVID-19 states, "I felt alone and isolated in the hospital without my family, and I had to rely on remote interpretation services to communicate with my healthcare providers. The interpretation was often delayed, and I was not always sure if the interpretation was accurate. It was very frustrating and added to the stress of being hospitalized with COVID-19." This is just one of many examples that captures how vital and irreplaceable face-to-face medical interpreters are in the medical field and beyond.

With a lack of access to face-to-face interpretation services, patients are unable to communicate effectively with their healthcare providers, leading to many misunderstandings, misdiagnoses, and in some cases, even medical errors.

Remote interpretation services, such as phone and video interpreting, were used as a substitute during the pandemic. However, these services have limitations and are not as effective as face-to-face interpretation. They can also be difficult to use for patients who may not be familiar with the technology or have limited access to it.

Furthermore, remote interpretation services may not be appropriate for all medical situations. In emergency situations, for example, immediate and accurate communication is critical. In such cases, a face-to-face medical interpreters are the most reliable option.

Face-to-face medical interpreters provide a critical service that ensures patients receive the care and treatment they need, regardless of their language proficiency. While COVID-19 restrictions during the years of 2020 to 2022 were necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, they had a significant impact on interpretation services in hospitals. Moving forward, it is essential that hospitals and healthcare facilities find ways to prioritize the need for face-to-face interpretation while also mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission so that patients can be taken care of with the best care possible.


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