Ruth Cuevas, Bothwell’s coordinator of Interpretive Services, is one busy woman. On average during any given month, she and her team of onsite interpreters are following more than 80 patients through multiple departments at the hospital and an additional 80 to 100 patients at Bothwell OB/GYN Associates and the Diagnostic Center. But help has arrived.
Now, in addition to staff interpreters for often-used languages, Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) is available at Bothwell Regional Health Center as well as at Bothwell OB/GYN Associates. The new option for interpreter coverage expands and improves communication for Limited English Proficiency patients and their families. Previously when on-site interpreters were not available, interpreter services were provided through a phone system.
“Quality of patient care trumps everything,” said Ruth Cuevas, Bothwell’s coordinator of Interpretive Services. “This is a wonderful resource to provide quality care and offer options to our patients and their families to meet their needs.”
A camera, speakers and antennae to boost wireless capability are on a mobile cart already in use on the nursing floors. Interpreters can be reached by clicking an icon, selecting the language and entering a patient identification number, which allows for later tracking of the conversation if needed.
The VRI, which offers interpreters in 38 languages, can also be used for sign language. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of VRI is its ability to assist with non-verbal communication because the interpreter and patient can see each other.
“It is similar to Skype, but it is much better quality,” Cuevas said. “The camera can be positioned so the patient and the interpreter can see and hear each other. It works if the patient is lying down or sitting up.”
The VRI offers Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian as well as other languages, and patient feedback has been positive, according to Cuevas.
“Patients feel it is easy to use, and they feel comfortable with it,” she said. “Staff think it is user-friendly and helps them provide better bedside care because their hands are free to assist patients.”