Michael Felger is one of Affordable Language Services’ medical interpreters. He shares with us one example of a time when his expertise came in especially helpful.
I recently had the opportunity to provide interpretation services for St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Florence, Kentucky. The nursing and medical staffs had been using telephonic interpreting services, but were not convinced that the communication barrier was being sufficiently bridged telephonically. Upon arrival, the nurse on duty reiterated as much to me.
In this case, the patient was an elderly woman with multiple terminal conditions. The conversation I interpreted was among the daughter of the patient, the attending physician, a specialist, and a hospice nurse. The conversation dealt with the patient’s condition, and what course of action was to be taken; whether to aggressively treat the diseases, or to focus on the comfort and peaceful passing of the patient.
Anyone involved in making medical decisions on behalf of a parent or loved one will know how difficult and confusing these conversations can be, let alone in English. Since there was an interpreter there in person, the complexity and emotional breadth of the conversation could be fully communicated and understood by both the daughter of the patient and the medical providers. In this case, informed decisions had to be made, and this would have been impossible without my interpretation.