The importance of speaking your language

Interpretor.jpgAt Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH), we are proud to serve one of the most diverse and culturally rich communities in the country. People from myriad of backgrounds and language groups come through the hospital doors each day.

As part of our focus on providing an extraordinary patient experience, MSH has enhanced our language services with on-site Mandarin and Cantonese speaking professional interpreters at our Markham site. Mandarin and Cantonese speakers were identified as the largest non-English speaking language group in the MSH catchment area. When it came time to determine what languages to start with these were deemed a top priority.

Photo: Julie Li, On-site Professional Interpreter

“Having onsite interpreters has been spectacular. Personally, I have had a number of occasions where their ability to effectively translate had made an enormous difference for a patient's experience and outcome.” - Dr. Andrew Arcand

MSH’s professional interpreters provide private and confidential interpretation for medical or clinical purposes such as assisting a patient to understand a diagnosis, requirements for a procedure or reviewing discharge information. The interpreters are on-site and on-call to provide real time interpretation where needed. They may also be booked in advance for family meetings. Professional interpretation is available to all hospital units and has become an important resource for many departments including orthopaedics, registration and emergency.

In the first two months that MSH offered on-site professional interpretation there were more than 400 requests, over 9,000 minutes of direct interpretation and requests from 30 separate areas of the hospital. A vast majority of those interpretation requests came from the Emergency Department (ED) and Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Andrew Arcand has become one of the biggest supporters of the service.

“Language interpretation has been a challenge in the Emergency Department for many years. We’ve gotten by, but it’s never been perfect for creating the best communication with our patients and their families” Dr. Arcand shared.

“Having onsite interpreters has been spectacular. Personally, I have had a number of occasions where their ability to effectively translate had made an enormous difference for a patient's experience and outcome.”

The availability of the professional interpreters at MSH significantly improves overall patient experience by allowing patients to be more active partners in their care. For a patient to both understand and be understood is essential to their best care experience and can lead to better clinical outcomes. From family meetings to one-on-one clinical interpretation, the on-site interpreters are here to help.

With the success of the language interpretation at the hospital, the program will be expanded in the coming months and years. Plans include the addition of several South Asian languages to the interpretation services to best reflect the diverse and growing community that rely on MSH.