Northern Light Health now has a service to help bridge the language barrier

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:29 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Language barriers are a tough challenge to work with, especially when tending to one’s health.

But, for Northern Light Health, that challenge is becoming a thing of the past.

Mobile interpretation units provided by AMN Healthcare are helping to bridge that gap.

This assistance is available anywhere at Northern Light that patients may require services.

“Find out what the language is, right. We can usually communicate to that level and get it started. We put the request into the device for the appropriate language. You type in a few pieces of information, and then a person who knows that language comes onto the screen and is audible and able to talk to the patient in their native language and be able to interpret the conversation back between the two parties,” said Sarah Joy, director of Northern Light Patient Experience.

For decades, language has been an obstacle in health care facilities. It’s hard to care for someone when you don’t understand the symptoms being experienced.

“We didn’t have these resources or these quick resources. We always had to have plans in action and sometimes stuff just didn’t work as planned, you know, be like, hey, can you bring somebody with you to help, or do you have interpreters yourself, somebody else that we can look for? But, just the technology has improved so much that we grab the iPad. They work with a whole step from the check in to seeing the nurse of the medical assistant to seeing the provider to the checkout process. It makes everything much more smoother, and much more like quicker process for everybody overall,” said Samantha Joy, Northern Light nurse.

The devices offer audio interpretations for more than 200 languages, including American Sign Language, and video services for an additional 40 languages.

In the second half of 2022, Northern Light interpreted 55 different languages with this tool.

Caregivers say having this more accessible way to communicate has certainly made an impact on their work and relationships with patients.

“One patient in particular, she needed a procedure done in the office, and we use the translator, and she was just so happy and could not express enough gratitude for like how easy it made the process for her and the provider that I worked with. We agreed that it also made the experience just that much better, so I’m very thankful that we have it,” said Autumn Cardente, Northern Light nurse.