Translation Services team leads with skill, compassion during COVID-19
Interpreters and translators earn praise from colleagues for exceptional service
“Imagine not understanding the language and being in an isolated room,” said Ceci Phelan-Stiles, senior manager of HR Communications for CCHC.
Translation Services play a critical role in the care of patients every day. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, their role became an actual life line to patients who were desperately sick and isolated.
Kim Small, NP, worked at the COVID-19 Call Center and credited the interpreters for how they managed their role.
“They have helped me… screening patients for testing and then providing these patients with their results. Without their help our job would have been much more challenging,” Small said.
Phelan-Stiles admires and appreciates her team of interpreters and translators, who earned kudos from Small and other colleagues for their incredible skill, compassion and care.
Q: What sets medical interpreting apart from other types of interpreting?
Phelan-Stiles: What sets it apart is that a medical interpreter assists in the clinical care of a patient. They assist with life or death situations. Thanks to them, patients understand what’s being said and make proper decisions about their care. They also prevent medical accidents. They are critical in ensuring patients who do not speak English get the same care as a patient who does speak English.
Q: What have you learned about your staff during this challenging time?
Phelan-Stiles: I always knew that the caliber of my staff was amazing. Their dedication to the community has always been exemplary. Yet during COVID I got to see firsthand how much heart they put in their work. They worked nonstop and helped in anything CCHC requested. There was nothing I asked that they did not do. It is in moments like this that you realize as a leader that what matters most is the team you lead. They held the fort and they made sure every patient had everything possible. I am the luckiest leader.
Q: What made the role of Translation Services even more critical during COVID?
Phelan-Stiles: Access made it more critical. Patients were alone and sick at the hospital as it is. I had a deaf patient tell me that COVID was his worst nightmare. He could not see the doctors face and could not get an interpreter. We were able to get an interpreter via video and get clear masks for him and he cried when he received these things. During COVID, communication became more essential. The clinical team needed desperately to communicate with everyone and having an interpreter available ensured patients were taken care off and did not feel so isolated and alone. Most important, the interpreters were key in informing our community of the risks of COVID and how to prevent it.