Interpreters ease the concerns of non-English speaking families

Interpreters ease the concerns of non-English speaking families at Children's Hospital

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The hospital's social work department provides interpreters around the clock to make sure families feel as comfortable as possible. The hospital's social work department provides interpreters around the clock to make sure families feel as comfortable as possible.
"Things like Tylenol and ibuprofen that seem very simple to us, it's really very difficult for them," said medical interpreter Jorge Escalona. "Things like Tylenol and ibuprofen that seem very simple to us, it's really very difficult for them," said medical interpreter Jorge Escalona.
Volunteer and recent UT grad David Rengifo gives the Masa girls some books to play with. Volunteer and recent UT grad David Rengifo gives the Masa girls some books to play with.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's scary enough as a parent if your child has to be hospitalized, but imagine not being able to understand the doctors and nurses because you speak a different language.

Most of time, patients' families at East Tennessee Children's Hospital who can't communicate in English speak Spanish.

The hospital's social work department provides interpreters around the clock to make sure families feel as comfortable as possible.

6 News visited the hospital as baby Mario Masa recovered from surgery.

His family has formed a bond with certified medical interpreter Jorge Escalona, who's on staff to make sure families like the Masa's, who don't speak English, understand what their child is going through.

"The parents are very apprehensive about the fear of the unknown," Escalona said.

He guides families through the entire process of their child's medical stay.

"Things like Tylenol and ibuprofen that seem very simple to us, it's really very difficult for them," he said.

Mario Masa, Sr. said the service has been a godsend.

"It's very helpful, very important, because through us they can understand everything, what's going on with their child," Escalona said, translating for Masa, Sr.

Because Escalona is so busy translating important medical information to patients' families, the role of Spanish speaking volunteers has grown.

It's a good fit for recent University of Tennessee graduate David Rengifo, who was born in Colombia.

"I'm extremely blessed and extremely lucky to be placed in this situation," Rengifo said.

His goal is to be a doctor someday.

And while he cannot do what Escalona does yet, he does have an important role in making sure families like the Masas are as comfortable as possible, by providing coloring books and other goodies for little Mario's sisters, a toy for the baby and a blanket for mom, spending time with the family, and making the whole hospital experience just a little less scary.

Children's Hospital can also arrange for interpreters for languages other than Spanish through a 24 hour phone service available in more than 200 languages and dialects.

Children's Hospital also arranges for interpretation services for patient families who are hearing impaired at the main hospital as well as its rehabilitation center out west and its hospital home health care.

For more information, visit Children Hospital's website or call the Social Work Department at 865-541-8457

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