Interpreters at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Earn Certification

Published On 02/07/2011

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Certified medical interpreters improve communication, patient safety, and outcomes.

Two medical interpreters at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare have earned their certification and are now Certified Medical Interpreters (CMI). Julio Cepeda, who works at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, was the first interpreter in the Memphis area to receive this certification. Constantina Fronimos-Baldwin, interpreting services coordinator with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, was the second interpreter within the Methodist health care system to earn certification as a Certified Medical Interpreter. Both Cepeda and Fronimos-Baldwin interpret for Spanish speaking patients.

“By opening the channel of communication and understanding between patients and their families with doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, medical interpreters really make a difference in patients’ lives,” said Fronimos-Baldwin. “Study after study shows patients who have qualified interpreters have better outcomes.”

Fronimos-Baldwin points to a number of studies that reveal positive results when trained interpreters are involved with patients who have a low proficiency in English. Some of those advantages include patients receiving more preventive services, more office visits, and more prescriptions are written and filled. Additionally, people who have a trained interpreter have fewer return visits to the emergency room and since communication is greatly enhanced, the patient’s wishes and priorities are understood and this improves their quality of care.

It takes more than speaking a foreign language to be a medical interpreter. It requires passing a rigorous oral exam as well as a written exam including demonstrating fluency in a language, having knowledge of medical terms and specialties, possessing a clear understanding of the code of ethics and interpreter standards of practice, as well as cultural awareness.

“It is extremely gratifying to work with the parents of our patients who speak little to no English and help them understand what is going on with their sick child,” said Cepeda. “At the same time, it’s very rewarding to be part of the health care provider’s team and help them communicate with parents and their patients.”

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has four Spanish speaking medical interpreters who interpreted more than 220,000 minutes for Spanish speaking patients in 2010.

In addition to interpreters, Methodist utilizes the telephonic interpretation system Cyracom to facilitate communication between patients and families who speak a foreign language with medical staff. Methodist also brings in specialists to work with patients who are hearing impaired.