Language Accessibility & Covid-19
Interpreter school and the demand for online interpreter training has intensified in demand during the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the start of 2020 we have all struggled and experienced some level of loss as a result. Looking back, there is a clear demarcation of life before, during and hopefully life after Covid. The health crisis has had a way of exacerbating issues- in every industry- that went long unaddressed yet suddenly demanded immediate solutions. Language accessibility or the lack thereof, is one of many issues Covid-19 highlighted in the healthcare industry.
A problem that predates the pandemic that ended up putting patients, interpreters and the broader public at risk. And while Coronavirus continues to ravage its way through the world today, much can be learned from looking back at the clear struggles faced as a result of the 2020 Covid-19 health crisis; which begs the question:
Could Interpreter School Have Alleviated The Lack of
Language Accessibility Highlighted During Covid?
"Hindsight is 20-20."- Unknown
We have all heard the expression and it couldn't be more accurate. The year 2020 delivered the greatest crisis since the Spanish Flu swept the globe in the early 1900's. Although there has been a century of of prosperous global health since then, effective language access wasn't always a top priority for hospitals and medical offices; despite an estimated 67.3 million U.S residents speaking little to no English.
Last year, an investigation revealed that for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals living in New York City with Coronavirus, delays in treatment and miscalculations in healthcare facilities intensified greatly; due in part to physicians struggling to communicate with patients. The problems were only compounded when the pandemic suddenly required that hospitals start using remote interpreters- leaving providers receiving little to no training on remote interpreting and how to operate the system.
In fact, many hospitals were working without any protective gear at all. Steffana Montoya- an interpreter who worked at a clinic operated by the Denver Health System in Colorado- and her client, were not given masks despite asking for one at a routine check-up appointment. At the time, masks were only being given to people who had Covid symptoms or who were there to be tested. Four days later Montoya tested positive for Coronavirus.
An argument can be made that Interpreter school and hospitals providing access to interpreter courses online could have provided better quality care to LEP (limited english proficiency) people living in the United States and abroad. Since the start of 2020 there were 46.8 million reported cases of Coronavirus and 759,000 deaths in the United States alone. Chances are high that even a few thousand out of the 67.3 million LEP individuals living in the U.S contracted Covid-19 and had a lower quality of care simply because there was a lack of communication between patients and healthcare providers. Concerns about language access during the pandemic extend beyond health care facilities. Where hospitals are used to working with on-site interpreters, public health departments, local governments and school nurses offices are not.
Interpreter Courses Online Can Increase Language
Accessibility During A Global Health Crisis
The reality is that we must now learn to live with Covid and there may never be a clear "life after Coronavirus." In 2021, there are many things we can look back on with what we know now and say "we could have handled that better." Hospitals were massively overwhelmed, there was a shortage of supplies and medical equipment and people were dying without being seen. In the worst case scenario, should there be another health crisis of similar magnitude, we can only hope that lessons were learned during 2020 and as a society we are now better equipped to handle a global pandemic and what that means for hospitals and healthcare providers.
As we respond to the public health crisis, we cannot ignore large groups of people when everyone needs the same access to care in order to stop the spread. Global problems require global solutions and one of those solutions is increasing pathways to language accessibility in medicine via online medical interpreter training. If you or someone you know is interested, our classes are offered in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Haitian Creole or Vietnamese languages.
Get the necessary online interpreter training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our online interpreter training programs: Online Medical Interpreter Training, Online Legal Interpreter Training, Online Immigration Interpreter Training, Online Community & Business Interpreter Training, or familiarize yourself with different types of interpreting and start developing your interpreting skills in our Introduction to Interpreting training program.