MULTICULTURAL CARE: Kaiser Permanente, City College Prepare Health Care Interpreters
In an effort "to meet San Francisco's huge demand for multicultural care," Kaiser Permanente and City College of San Francisco "have just graduated their first joint class of 25 health care interpreters" the San Francisco Business Times reports. The year-long certificate program was launched last fall to improve communication between health care workers and non- English speaking patients. The Business Times notes that "after realizing that poor communication carried high risks -- both medical and legal" -- Kaiser started the program with a $10,000 grant. Gayle Tang, director of multicultural services at Kaiser's San Francisco Medical Center, said, "Health care providers cannot afford to not have trained health care interpreters because of the liability. Just one case, and you use up the entire budget for a unit like ours." The Business Times reports that many hospitals do not have adequate staff to handle the amount of interpretations needed -- 8,000 last year at Kaiser's San Francisco center and about 32,000 at San Francisco General Hospital. As a result, the hospitals made inadequate substitutions, sometimes relying on underqualified interpreters, or even young children to translate complicated medical information. "The interpreter needs to be able to bridge the culture and explain to the patient and families why the doctor is doing these things, and how that fits in the tradition of Western medical care," Tang said. This year's graduates were trained in "Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian and Thai, and the Chinese dialects of Hakaa, Toysanese and Chilchow" (Bole, 6/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.