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Every day, many patients need an interpreter who understands their medical problems and therefore can make informed decisions about their care. Before the coronavirus pandemic, medical interpreters helped 30-40 people every day.

Interpreters working for hospitals translate the conversation between doctor and patient, maintaining patient confidentiality; their job can make the difference between life and death. Due to coronavirus restrictions, this situation could have a negative impact on patient care, especially as the pandemic has disproportionately affected minority communities in need of interpretation. Access to professional interpreters is essential for the care of patients with limited knowledge of English.

Because interpreters fear for their health, hospitals need to consider remote interpretation services, but not all have the necessary infrastructure. Face-to-face interpretation is important due to dialectal nuances and nonverbal communication. Communication with patients and doctors by telephone or video call can be difficult due to face masks or breathing machines.

While some interpreters have used phone and video calls for years to communicate with patients, others are still adapting. Some wonder if their health will not be jeopardized by choosing to return to the hospital and may choose to continue working remotely.

If you want to find out how interpreters are affected by the coronavirus pandemic, check out our article on this topic: How Covid-19 affects interpreters.

[Photo from Pixabay]