1. Poccia, Ezio A.

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It was with great interest that I read the article "Break through Language Barriers" (August 2004). I'm the language assistance coordinator for Faxton-St. Luke's Healthcare, Utica, N.Y. The article touched on many of the same problems we've been trying to tackle at our facilities. That said, I must point out an error on page 36 of your article. In your Q&A tool, sidebar questions three and four have been flipped, so if you were taking literal translations, they wouldn't make sense. Either the English or the Spanish versions were changed. Other than this error, I believe the article was excellent.


The challenges we face here in Utica are compounded by the fact that we're a hub for a diverse set of cultures. Our local refugee center, in recent years, has welcomed thousands of people from Bosnia, Russia, Vietnam, Burma, Somalia, and Liberia. We also have a very extensive Hispanic community. These groups comprise about a fifth of the population of our city.


We're in the process of training staff to deal with culturally sensitive issues. We hope to train many of them as interpreters within the next year, so they can aid patients in activities of daily living. We also use local agencies for face-to-face interpretation on a 24/7 basis, in addition to using telephonic interpretation and translation services. There are many other areas in which we're making efforts to assist patients with limited English proficiency. I try to emphasize with everyone concerned that time, patience, and understanding are the keys to success when dealing with culturally diverse populations and communication barriers.