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Rite Aid joins other drugstores in offering translators for those who don't speak English well

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

If you have friends or family who speak English as a second or third language, you know the kind of mix-ups that can happen when someone bungles the most basic attempt at communication.

When those mistakes are about medicine and how to take it, they can turn deadly.

That's why Rite Aid stores across the country have joined other drugstores in making translators available to its customers. Rite Aid's interpreters are available, by phone and at no expense, in more than 175 languages.

The service began Monday.

The interpreters are medically trained, according to Rite Aid, and will help explain instructions, side effects and precautions in dozens of languages including Arabic, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish and Swahili.

Rite Aid hopes the service will help reduce medication errors for those whose first language is not English.

The interpreters are available - within minutes - 24 hours a day, seven days a week at customers' request, either in person or by phone.

Other drugstores have been offering similar services for years.

At CVS, customers can access translators in about 150 languages by requesting the service when they visit a store, according to a spokesman.

Walgreens also helps customers whose first language is not English by putting them in touch with one of its pharmacists, many of whom speak a language besides English, a spokeswoman says. Call or ask when you're in a store and Walgreens will have a pharmacist get back to you.

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