MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (March 1, 2010) – Families who are not proficient in English have a new user-friendly resource to help them with their child’s health care needs. Beginning March 1, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is offering dedicated interpreter phone lines that give Hispanic and Somali callers immediate access to trained health care interpreters who can connect them with any department or clinic at Children’s.
Interpreters have always been available at Children’s, but callers had to call a main line first where they would most likely reach someone who does not speak their language. The family had to communicate the need for an interpreter and would be placed on hold while an interpreter was called. Sometimes calls would be lost or the families would hang up.
“Language can be a significant barrier for some families who are trying to access the health care system,” said Boris Kalanj, director of the Office for Health Care Equity at Children’s. “As hard as we have worked to make interpreters available, that initial point of contact can leave families feeling frustrated or confused. With this new phone line we wanted to enhance access to our health care system by giving families a chance to connect with an interpreter before connecting with anyone else at Children’s, who may not speak their language.”
The new service will initially cover Spanish and Somali families, which account for about 90% of the interpreter services volume at Children’s. The phone lines will be serviced by a combination of Children’s staff interpreters and contracted interpreters from an outside agency.
Under the new system, families simply dial a local phone number dedicated for their language. The numbers are: (612) 813-7500 (Spanish) and (612) 813-2020 (Somali).
An interpreter will answer the call in the designated language, identify the caller’s needs, and connect them to the appropriate person, department, clinic or unit for help. The interpreter will remain on the line throughout the call, providing interpretation and connection assistance until all of the caller’s needs have been addressed. The new interpreter lines are being funded in part by grants from three foundations: the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Private Foundation, the Michael V. and Ann C. Ciresi Charitable Foundation, and the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children. The program is part of an ongoing effort by Children’s to address health care disparities in Minnesota.
About Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Serving as Minnesota's children's hospital since 1924, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has 332 staffed beds at its two hospitals in St. Paul and Minneapolis. An independent, not-for-profit health care system, Children's of Minnesota provides care through more than 14,000 inpatient visits and more than 200,000 emergency room and other outpatient visits every year. Children's is the only Minnesota hospital system to provide comprehensive care exclusively to children.