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Why A Hospital Is Taking Farm Workers Out Of The Field And Training Them As Medical Interpreters

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Angelica Isidro was the first interpreter hired by Indigenous Interpreters Plus. She interprets in Spanish and Mixteco.  For years Angelica had been informally interpreting for her community; interpreting over the phone while she worked her day job in the fields.  Credit: Nina Porzucki .

 

Folks from Salinas like to remind you that their valley is the “Salad Bowl of the World.” Not that you can forget. Everywhere you look there’s fields growing lettuce, strawberries, broccoli.

A growing number of the farm workers picking the broccoli and lettuce from those fields speak neither English nor Spanish but several Native Mexican languages like Mixtec, Triqui, Zapotec. How are these farmworkers navigating life in California speaking their languages? Turns out, it’s not so easy.

Natividad Hospital, in the town of Salinas on California’s Central Coast, is ground zero. This hospital, surrounded by fields, serves many farm workers in the valley.

Angelica Isidro was the first interpreter hired by Indigenous Interpreters Plus. She interprets in Spanish and Mixteco.  For years Angelica had been informally interpreting for her community; interpreting over the phone while she worked her day job in the fields.

Several years ago, you would’ve been lucky to find even a certified Spanish-language interpreter at Natividad. This was a problem — a problem that became clear to Linda Ford when she became the CEO of the hospital’s foundation nearly a decade ago.“I first went into the emergency department and asked one of the doctor’s ‘is there anything you need in this emergency department.’ And he was so frustrated and just said, ‘I can’t talk to my patients, I cannot talk to my patients.’”

After doing a language assesment, Ford found that four of the language most commonly spoken by patients coming to the hospital were Native Mexican languages. And within those four Native Mexican languages, there were dozens of variants.

Yet finding indigenous interpreters proved to be a challenge.

“I thought … let me find an agency where I can find interpreters and I Googled but nothing came up,” Ford says.

So Ford……

To read full article: https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-11-04/fields-icu-how-one-hospital-training-field-workers-be-medical-interpreters

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