UVM Medical Center works to 'raise the bar' on caring for diverse patient population

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UVM Medical Center works to 'raise the bar' on caring for diverse patient population

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 3:18am -- tim

Vermont Busness Magazine On Friday, 361 members of the community streamed into the 2nd annual Language Access and Communication Expo. Small bouquets of carnations sat on the registration table, color-coded to match flowers pinned to the lapels of different interpreters inside. White, for example, signified an American Sign Language interpreter.

Inside, interpreters and more than 40 vendors mingled with physicians, nurses, students, volunteers and patients. Some attendees tried on goggles to experience visual impairment. Others were guided behind curtains, and walked through a mock doctor’s appointment – where they were spoken to only in Spanish or American Sign Language regarding a complicated health issue. Such appointments are one tool that the hospital’s Language Access Services team is using to “raise the bar” on improving care for patients and families, said Lynette Reep, CI and CT, ASL Interpreter and Coordinator of Language Access Services at the UVM Medical Center.

“This event is an opportunity for staff and providers to feel the patient’s perspective,” Reep said. “What is it like to try to explain my symptoms to a doctor who doesn’t speak my language?”

Organizers compiled comments from staff and others who experienced the mock appointment. One commenter wrote, “I am an interpreter student. This allowed me to step into the role of the patient and see what it is like to have my own interpreter.” Another added, “This really opened up my eyes to how scary it can be to get help.”

The UVM Medical Center began hosting this event in 2016 as part of its work to improve the experience of patients and their families, many of whom have limited English proficiency. “I was struck by so much diversity and creativity in the room,” said Sandra Pucillo, who manages the hospital’s call center and serves as interim manager of Case Management and Social Work.

The hospital offers ASL interpreters for Deaf, hard of hearing and DeafBlind patients and their companions, as well as spoken language interpreters for patients with limited English proficiency. Video interpretation is available in close to 20 languages and telephonic interpreting can be accessed in dozens more. To learn more about interpreting and translation services at the UVM Medical Center, click here.

About the University of Vermont Medical Center
The University of Vermont Medical Center  is a 447-bed tertiary care regional referral center, including the UVM Children’s Hospital, providing advanced care to approximately 1 million residents in Vermont and northern New York.  Together with our partners at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center. The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. 

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, a five-hospital system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve. Our partners are:

Source: UVMMC 10.3.2017