(Katherine C. Cohen/Boston Children’s Hospital)
Spanish Interpreter Supervisor
I’ve been a Spanish interpreter here for 22 years. We have a fantastic team of interpreters. Everybody is professional, friendly, hard-working and so committed to the patients. We are more than just people who can understand two languages. We have to know the medical terminology as well as the culture of the patient and the family involved.
When I interpret, it’s important for me to use the same intonation as either the provider or the family so I can provide the most faithful message possible. I have to have some acting skills in a way, which is one of the most fun and challenging aspects of the job.
We’re in outpatient exam rooms, inpatient units and pre-op and post-op procedure rooms. We are there for diagnoses, follow-up appointments and team meetings. And sometimes we get outside calls transferred from the main number. There was once a family from Puerto Rico that called in and I answered the call. The mother was pregnant with conjoined twins and had been given a very bad prognosis in Puerto Rico. I helped them connect with a surgeon who ended up being able to separate the babies at birth and allow one to survive.
The work is very satisfying because I feel like I help all parties involved communicate important information. Families feel so grateful that there’s someone here who speaks their language. Just the presence of an interpreter brings comfort to a family.