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Breaking Language Barriers

Hospital visits can be unsettling. Just imagine if you couldn’t communicate to your doctor or didn’t speak the same language. Barnes-Jewish Hospital offers free 24-hour interpreter and translation services. The team of 37 interpreters helps roughly 40,000 visitors each year in more than 81 languages, including sign language.

 

Larisa Novof

Barnes-Jewish Russian Interpreter
Age 49, Hometown:Creve, Coeur, MO

How interpreters help:
Interpreters help make the appointment and arrange transport to and from the hospital. They stay with the patient through their visit, make sure they understand the treatment and follow up afterward. The services aren’t just for those who need translation from another language, but for those who simply don’t understand what the doctor is telling them.

Understanding barriers:
It’s more than just a language problem. St. Louis has a large refugee and international population who have different languages, cultures, religions and traditions. Many people don’t take their medicines correctly or get the best treatment because they didn’t understand the instructions or are afraid to ask.

A hospital visit without assistance:
Their only other option is if a family member could interpret, but those people often work during appointment times or don’t have language skills or medical terminology to understand themselves.

Vladimir Borodyanskiy

Patient, retired doctor
Age 80, Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine

How interpreters help:
I consider interpreters part of the family. They help with whatever my needs are. They are very needed for people from other countries who don’t speak the language or don’t understand the doctor. I never go anywhere without an interpreter.

Understanding barriers:
It would be impossible without the interpreter, not just for medical reasons but cultural reasons. The medical system and approach is completely different from other countries. I’ve had six surgeries at Barnes-Jewish, and am very thankful for everything they do: their professionalism, attitude, the care the patients are given, even how the staff treats you with respect.

A hospital visit without assistance:
It would have been very scary, since I couldn’t communicate. I was a general surgeon at the top hospital in Kiev until I was 65 years old and moved to the United States. Comparing the service there to what patients get here, I am amazed at how well patients are treated and appreciate the lengths the hospital goes to help.

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