SZMC Interpreters, Building Bridges

February 19th, 2019 by Camrin Parnell

Can you imagine being ill or being in serious pain and trying to explain what you feel or what happened to you and no one understanding you? Can you imagine having a doctor treat you and not being able to understand what he’s saying?

Shaare Zedek Medical Center was proud to host a course to train 30 translators from health centers across Jerusalem. The translators were native speakers of Amharic, Arabic or Russian. The course was designed to improve accessibility for all people living in Jerusalem and emphasized the influence and impact of medical translators and their potential to help build bridges of understanding and comfort between the medical staff and the patient and his/her family.

Ms. Efrat Cohen is a social worker at Shaare Zedek who is in charge of accessibility. Currently, there are 30 trained medical translators working in Shaare Zedek. Efrat shared, “The staff of the various departments assisted by the medical interpreters trained at Shaare Zedek, have the opportunity to get information from patients and relay information to patients and their family in the patient’s language … This helps creates a bridge of trust and cooperation between the medical staff and the patient, and this is one of our goals as a hospital and we are working to expand these efforts to additional departments.” Mr. Adel Dana works in our Blood Bank and is a Medical Interpreter for Arabic he shared, “When the doctor and the patient do not understand each other it is a problem for both the doctor and the patient. The doctor cannot find out what medications the patient is taking or understand exactly what the patient is feeling or concerned about. The patient cannot understand what procedures the medical staff wants to perform, cannot understand the doctor’s diagnosis or what treatment is required. I find it very rewarding to help as an interpreter. Not being able to communicate adds a lot of stress for everyone. For example, I helped a young mother in labor. The medical team saw that the baby was in crisis, the mother did not understand what was going on and she got very upset. I came and I explained everything to her and she calmed down.  This is very important. Often, I help people and they either call me or come to find me in the Blood Bank to thank me.”