Translation Services Help Thousands during the COVID-19 Pandemic

A patient uses the real-time translation services during a medical visit.

Swedish Hospital is located in a culturally-diverse area that is home to immigrants and refugees from more than 60 nations.  In order to provide the best possible care to our patients and community members, we routinely provide real-time interpretive services in over 100 languages. As the COVID19 pandemic began to surge (from May through June), our need for interpretive services increased dramatically. Thanks to funding from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, Swedish was able to quickly and effectively assist thousands of non-English speaking individuals across the Chicagoland area understand COVID-related needs, symptoms and treatment plans.

Specifically, funds were used to provide for in-person, phone and video-based interpretive services in over 46 languages for hospitalized patients with COVID-19, those coming to the COVID-19 testing tents, patients coming to the hospital for treatment services, or individuals calling in to the COVID-19 Help Line. Reflective of the diversity of our communities, a majority of callers to the helpline required assistance in Spanish and Korean, but we also received requests for translation in Arabic, Vietnamese, Assyrian, Urdu, and Rohingyan in addition to almost 20 more languages. Staff members answering the Help Line are able to seamlessly add a translator via phone or video conference to support a caller in real-time. Thanks to our real-time translation services, individuals from the community are able to convey their symptoms, questions and concerns via the COVID-19 Help Line and to staff in the testing tents

Additionally, Swedish Hospital created two, YouTube Public Service Announcement videos about symptom screening and testing in both Spanish and English. Click here to view the video in English or Spanish.     

We have also created printable COVID-19 resources and educational materials in 6 of the most popular languages spoken by our patients, including Spanish, Polish, Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese and Assyrian.  Links to all of these are available on our website.

Ensuring that a patient understands a diagnosis or treatment plan is essential for providing them with the best care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Translation services are essential, as illustrated with one of our COVID-positive patients.  Part of Swedish Hospital’s response to COVID-19 has been to provide pulse oximeters to discharged COVID-19 positive patients, so that they can monitor their blood oxygen levels and identify any issues that require additional medical care from the safety and comfort of their home. During the first week of June, our medical team discharged a stable COVID-19 patient and gave him a pulse oximeter to take home with him. However, this patient was Spanish speaking, and he did not fully understand the instructions for use of the device at discharge. By connecting this patient with translation services, Swedish was able to educate him on how to use the pulse oximeter to monitor his recovery. This tool allows us to best use hospital resources, while empowering our patients to watch for warning signs and seek medical attention when needed.

Thanks to initial funding from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, and current funding from donors, Swedish is able to offer real-time translation services to our patients and community members in over 100 languages, ensuring that we provide best care to our patients. For more information on how you can help, please contact please visit the donation form, or call the Foundation office at 773-293-5121 or email, Foundation@schosp.org

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