Hospitals Train Bilingual Staffers as Healthcare Interpreters to Better Serve New Jersey's Diverse Population

Sep 04, 2012, 12:50 ET from New Jersey Hospital Association

PRINCETON, N.J., Sept. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New Jersey is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse states in the country. About 1 million residents are unable to speak English well, and more than 165,000 do not speak English at all. For hospitals and their patients, clear communication is essential for ensuring quality healthcare and successful outcomes.

With more than 100 languages spoken in the Garden State, the New Jersey Hospital Association offers a statewide training program to help hospitals bridge the language barrier. The program, offered through a nonprofit NJHA affiliate called the Health Research and Educational Trust, trains bilingual hospital staff to serve as medical interpreters. These staffers are uniquely suited for this very important role since they reflect the diversity of their communities and possess a background in healthcare.

Since the program's launch in 2007, more than 400 bilingual staff from 32 healthcare facilities have been successfully trained to serve as medical interpreters. The next round of training sessions will be offered this fall; all sessions are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.:

  • Sept. 7, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, 1199 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange
  • Oct. 5, New Jersey Hospital Association, 760 Alexander Road, Princeton
  • Nov. 20, Cumberland County College, 3322 College Drive, Vineland

"New Jersey hospitals continue to strive to meet the unique healthcare, social and welfare needs of their communities. Having bilingual staff to serve as medical interpreters can help prevent unnecessary testing and misdiagnosis. And clear, culturally sensitive communication can help produce greater patient compliance, satisfaction and improved health outcomes," said Firoozeh Vali, PhD, NJHA's vice president of research.

Hospitals participating in this program can establish a pool of interpreters to better meet the needs of New Jersey's diverse population, decrease the need for telephonic interpreter services and reduce related costs. In addition, hospitals will be better prepared to comply with state and federal mandates, as well as requirements from accrediting agencies like The Joint Commission, for providing linguistically and culturally appropriate services.

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association