organize, agitate, open wide and say “ahhh”
On Tuesday, after months of pressure from the immigrant community, close to one hundred immigrant patients as well as local elected officials from Washington Heights held a press conference to announce that Columbia Presbyterian Hospital is starting a comprehensive new program to provide translation and interpretation services to patients with limited English proficiency. The new services will guarantee equal access to health care services for hundreds of thousands of patients each year.
Just months after Make the Road by Walking and others released a report entitled Lost in Translation that documented widespread problems for limited English proficient patients at the hospital, New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center has made tremendous improvements in services for patients who need language assistance.
The hospital has hired a language access coordinator and expanded staffing for interpretation services. The coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that patients' language needs are met. The hospital has also made a commitment that all staff and volunteers will receive annual training regarding language services.
The hospital has also begun an awareness campaign called "NYP Speaks Your Language" to publicize their language access services to the community and among patients and staff. The hospital with make many changes such as increasing the number of written documents translated for patients and updating the data collection system over the next year to make that data about language needs is collected and analyzed.
Columbia-Presbyterian is only one of many city hospitals and health clinics, though. It is crucial that they all work to ensure equal access to services for all New Yorkers.