Mercy Medical Center is the first hospital to open in Merced, California, in 80 years. The hospital Mercy Medical Center employs two full-time Spanish interpreters and one full-time Hmong interpreter during the week. During the weekend, there's one interpreter for each language.
The interpreters are mainly stationed at the emergency department, but they also help with patients throughout the hospital, if requested.
Every room at the hospital is equipped with a phone that offers translating services for up to 150 languages. But having an in-person interpreter is much more personal for patients than the phone service. Patients get a more thorough understanding of their condition and they could ask more questions.
Each interpreter works with 4-5 patients every hour on average, said Changvang Her, director of Hospital Language Services for the Healthy House Within a MATCH Coalition, which contracts with the hospital.
Interpreters are well trained, not only in the language skills, but also in listening skills, and in how to understand a patient's culture and beliefs, Her said.