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Children's Hospitals And Clinics Launch Direct Access Interpreter Phone Lines For Non-English Speaking Callers

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL, Minn., March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Families who are not proficient in English have a new user-friendly resource to help them with their child's health care needs. Beginning March 1, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is offering dedicated interpreter phone lines that give Hispanic and Somali callers immediate access to trained health care interpreters who can connect them with any department or clinic at Children's.

Interpreters have always been available at Children's, but callers had to call a main line first where they would most likely reach someone who does not speak their language. The family had to communicate the need for an interpreter and would be placed on hold while an interpreter was called. Sometimes calls would be lost or the families would hang up.

"Language can be a significant barrier for some families who are trying to access the health care system," said Boris Kalanj, director of the Office for Health Care Equity at Children's. "As hard as we have worked to make interpreters available, that initial point of contact can leave families feeling frustrated or confused. With this new phone line we wanted to enhance access to our health care system by giving families a chance to connect with an interpreter before connecting with anyone else at Children's, who may not speak their language."

The new service will initially cover Spanish and Somali families, which account for about 90% of the interpreter services volume at Children's. The phone lines will be serviced by a combination of Children's staff interpreters and contracted interpreters from an outside agency.

Under the new system, families simply dial a local phone number dedicated for their language. The numbers are: (612) 813-7500 (Spanish) and (612) 813-2020 (Somali).

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