We Speak Your Language

Bilingual Employees Meet the Needs of a Diverse Community

Interpreters at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

In order to provide the highest level of care, healthcare providers need to communicate clearly with patients and their families.

That’s why Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI) and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey launched the I Speak initiative, which supports interpreter training for bilingual employees through the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) program. Since 2017, approximately 47 NBI employees have completed the HRET eight-hour Interpreter Training course and post-training assessment. These bilingual employees are now I Speak ambassadors and can be found throughout the hospital, ready to welcome visitors and bridge communication gaps between patients and providers.

“This class has taught me the proper way to approach a patient and to validate their concerns in a respectful way, in addition to helping them communicate in their native tongue,” says Juan Pawluczek, Emergency Department Technician. “It is also a great way for me to give back to the community. Not everyone realizes we speak many different languages here at Newark Beth Israel.”

Juan is one of 13 I Speak ambassadors in the hospital’s Emergency Medicine department. Like more than 60 percent of I Speak ambassadors in the hospital, he is a fluent Spanish speaker. Ambassadors also speak German, French Creole and Portuguese. In addition to the HRET initiative the hospital offers certified medical interpreter services for patients, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 240 languages.

“Effective communication is essential to delivering exemplary patient care and keeping our patients safe,” says said Atiya Jaha-Rashidi, Director of Diversity and Inclusion and leader of the HRET initiative at NBI. “This initiative is just one of the many programs that allow us to continuously meet the needs of our ever growing and diverse patient populations.”