Interpreter on Wheels helps hospital staff overcome language barriers

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Being a new mom can be stressful enough, but imagine not speaking the same language as the doctors in charge of your care. It's a common scenario at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. Staff there say they often have international travelers or moms whose first language isn't English.

With a language barrier, the staff says explaining even the simplest instructions for care can be difficult. Fortunately, a new tool at the hospital means an interpreter is now just a button away. Woman's has a device called an Interpreter on Wheels. It's a communication network that uses an IPad and video calling to help patients and staff overcome a language barrier with a medical interpreter. The program can access more than 20 languages, including sign language, and interpreters are on call at all times.

Before this device, a speaker phone was the only way to communicate between interpreters and patients and staff. Staff nurse and lactation specialist, Nicole Fox, says the video chat makes communication even easier.

"We can use Face Time and actually show the interpreter what we're talking about. They get a visual on how to translate that through the family, such as feed the baby or caring for the baby," said Fox. "It's easier for the translator to see what we're working with."

Interpreters may answer around 30 calls per day, and each one is trained in medical terminology so they can properly explain any instructions.

"My personal goal is optimal care for the mom and the infant. When you're able to translate that, it helps the patient feel more comfortable and confident in their own healthcare and taking care of their infant," said Fox.

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