Terp Tales – Francisco Pimienta
We’d like to share with you some “behind-of-scenes” of our Interpreter Community.
This is the first episode and Francisco Pimienta just opened up the stage!
“As of 2017, the number of international migrants worldwide stood at almost 258 million (or 3.4 percent of the world’s population), according to UN Population Division estimates. What does this mean to the language industry? Let’s say it could translate into business opportunities, professional development for qualified linguists and a demand for more language services in a wider variety of language pairs.
In the United States where millions of Limited English Proficient (LEP) people reside and the infrastructure, legal regulation and language access has been established so that to everyone regardless of their national origin receives the healthcare they need or legal assistance in their language they prefer, there are still some gaps in coverage that are could be unacceptable and should not happen in our revolutionizing era of technological improvement.
We might think this is impossible to happen since by law according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §2000d, et. seq.). Failure to provide linguistically-appropriate services has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to be discrimination on the basis of national origin under such Title.
Recently while interpreting for a Health Insurance Plan through which I was providing my interpreting services, an LEP patient and I were connected to a Primary Care Provider’s office so that she could establish care for her and her husband, but the Care Coordinator from the Health Plan had to remain on hold on a conference call with the receptionist, since the office did not have an interpreter or anyone that spoke the LEP’s language available to take down the information in order to schedule an appointment.
Surprisingly, the receptionist told the patient that since they did not have anyone who spoke her language in their office and all of the providers only spoke English, the patient would have to bring someone to assist her communicate with the Physician. The female LEP replied “I have a 13-year-old daughter who may be able to assist me interpreting at my medical appointment”, the receptionist gladly replied (as if she had finally had been enlightened with an answer for a very complex Calculus problem) “wonderful, this will really make things much easier for you and for us, but make sure to bring your daughter to all of your medical appointments, otherwise we would not be able to understand each other.”
Since the Health Insurance Plan Care Coordinator was still on the line listening to the conversation, she immediately intervened and explained to the Clinic staff member that it may not be appropriate for the patient to have her teenage daughter help her with her language needs, and offered the LEP to search for a different provider in the area that would have the ability to assist her in her preferred language.
The explanation we received from the Clinic staff was shocking, in fact, due to the lack of language services providers in the remote area of Kentucky, they did not have access to an interpreter and there was not much they could do.
Let’s hope that within the near future with the assistance of new platforms and technologies language assistance can get to every single corner of the country and not jeopardize the life of a human being for deciding to live in a rural area where language access is still limited to a certain extent.”