Novant Health offering bilingual courses for employees

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Spanish-speaking population is growing rapidly in the Triad.

Health professionals say now more than ever, hospital interpreters are in high demand.

“The diversity of languages has increased, but about 85 percent of the people we interpret for are Spanish speaking,” Tom Bauer, senior director of patient communication at Novant Health, said.

At Forsyth Medical Center alone, it’s estimated that 52 interpretations are required daily.

The numbers not only show a significant need for interpreters to help professionals who don’t speak a second language, but also for bilingual doctors and nurses who can accurately communicate with patients directly.

“Health care information is difficult to understand, so when you add another language to that, it makes it even more difficult,” Bauer said.

Novant Health is offering bilingual courses to make sure employees fluent in another language are accurately interpreting information for patients.

Certified Nursing Assistant John Romero is a native Spanish speaker from Colombia.

Despite being fluent in Spanish, he still had to take the course to understand his role using medical terminology verbally and within written documentation.

He says the course helped provide a proper interpretation for different situations.

“You might think they translate one way, but they mean something else,” Romero said.

Within Novant Health, the Spanish-speaking population accounts for about 25% of the patients it serves.

The bilingual courses are offered to employees quarterly.