Every staff interpreter at Rush University Medical Center has been awarded the highest available credential available to health care interpreters in the United States, making Rush, as of December, the only major medical center in Illinois, and one of a handful in the nation, to have all of its interpreters distinguished as such by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).
When interpreter services at Rush started in November 2002, there were three Spanish-speaking interpreters. Today, the office has a staff of 12 and receives approximately 10,000 requests a month. CCHI requires a board exam in two parts, written and oral.
“Studies have shown that positive health outcomes for patients who speak limited English are much more likely when those patients receive their medical information in their own languages,” according to Carlos Olvera, the first interpreter hired at Rush and manager of interpreter services.
Credentials from CCHI help ensure positive outcomes for patients. Roughly 45 million Americans do not speak English at home, and 19 percent of Americans don’t speak fluent English. When seeking health care, these individuals often have trouble communicating symptoms clearly and understanding what their physicians are saying, so it’s critical for interpreters to not just be fluent in the patient’s language but also knowledgeable about medical terms in that language, according to Olvera. Those who credentialed in health care interpretation are better prepared to clear up communication barriers in hospitals.
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