Allentown and Lehigh Valley Health Network Partner to Offer Pilot Interpreter Program in Town

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LVHN provides the Bureau of Health and Allentown EMS with Remote Video Interpretation (VRI) technology so they can connect quickly and efficiently with LVHN’s trained medical interpreters or be routed to a contracted vendor who provides translation services in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and American Sign Language. and other languages ​​of the world. The technology is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year and can be accessed on iPads purchased with funding from the Health Care Trust of Anne Constance and Carl Robert Anderson at LVHN. Allentown EMS received five iPads – one for each of its emergency vehicles. The Health Unit received two iPads to travel with staff to community events, such as vaccination clinics, across the city.

Nearly half of Allentown residents speak languages ​​other than English.

“Our diversity is our strength,” said Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk. “One of our administration’s goals is to improve access to essential services and amenities for our residents – this program helps us do that for our community where people speak many different languages.”

Allentown EMS has approximately 50 full-time and part-time paramedics, who respond to over 16,000 calls annually. Although trained in emergency and advanced care, very few are fluent in languages ​​other than English.

“This technology will bridge the gap between patient and paramedics. Without VRI, when our paramedics interact with patients who don’t speak English, the translation is primitive at best. We hope to optimize patient care through clear and accurate translation from any language, and through this program we can,” says Mehmet Barzev, Chief EMS Operations Officer.

Public health officials and clinicians at the Bureau of Health serve thousands of residents each year by providing health services, education and, most recently, vaccinations against COVID-19. However, most staff are not bilingual.

“The donation of these iPads to the Office of Health will further support efforts to provide culturally appropriate care,” said Vicky Kistler, Director of Community and Economic Development. “The donation improves confidentiality and allows for a more natural interaction between patient and caregiver. We greatly appreciate this generous donation.

Language barriers can have a significant negative impact on the quality and cost of health care and reduce patient and provider satisfaction.

LVHN’s Interpreting Services department ensures reliable and effective communication between patients and their providers, resulting in better medical outcomes, improved patient satisfaction and reduced healthcare disparities.

The pilot program with the City of Allentown was designed by Joumana De Santiago, Manager of Interpretation Services at LVHN.

“We all know that in an emergency, every second counts. Communication between patients and emergency responders is fundamental to providing quality care – and this service will ensure that language barriers do not become barriers to care and waste valuable time,” says De Santiago. “This partnership will not only benefit patients and our partners at the Allentown Health Unit and Allentown Emergency Medical Services – it will ensure that our caregivers have accurate and reliable medical information so they can provide the best care possible.”

LVHN anticipates that the program with the City of Allentown will help reduce trauma and anxiety associated with medical emergencies and lead to better health outcomes for thousands of patients and their families for whom English is not the language. favourite.

LVHN provides more than 7 million minutes of interpreting services per year.

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