When you speak, you expect to be heard. But do we ever expect to be understood?Patients treated at Temple Hospital can now expect just that.
TUH has entered its fourth year of assigning full-time language interpreters to its non-English-speaking patients. In all, 10 such interpreters are on staff at TUH, where a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation made this initiative possible.
No longer will proper health care get lost in translation.
Consider that with the help of the translators, physicians will no longer worry that they’ve ordered the wrong prescriptions, set off an allergic reaction
or headed into surgery without the proper consent.
But the language barrier is an issue outside Temple Hospital.Long debated and with no end in sight, English-only advocacy has fallen on deaf ears. Two hundred-thirty years into our nation’s existence, there’s no official language. Yet, that hasn’t stopped some municipalities from taking matters into their own hands.
According to the federal government, 22 states have declared English as their official language. In these states, people aren’t tossed into jail for speaking other languages, but the English-only policy applies to state-released documents,
laws and actions.
As minimal as that may sound – aside from politicians, who’s really reading those policies anyway? – English-only policies close the door of communication to the non-English-speaking inhabitants there.And many Pennsylvanians fall into this category.
The U.S. Census says nearly 1 million of Pennsylvania’s 12 million residents do not speak English in their homes. In this state alone, more than 40,000 residents speak five languages other than English.
According to the Census those languages are Spanish, Italian, German, French and Chinese.In an interview with “The Temple News,” second-year medical student Peter Murray put all fears of the non-English-
speaking patient to rest.”I want my people to be understood,” he said.
Now, they will be. Thanks to Temple Hospital, the language barrier is one less thing non-English- speaking people will have to worry about in a time of crisis.