Washakie Medical Center Grows Its Spanish Interpretation Services

WORLAND, Wyo. – To accommodate the growing Spanish-speaking population in Worland, Washakie Medical Center is pleased to announced the addition of Banner’s Spanish Language Assistant program. The program entails the certification of two healthcare providers at the hospital in Spanish language just last month.

Both women, Estrellita Vazquez, Emergency Department technician, and Patty Tapia, LPN, had to pass verbal fluency tests and written and oral vocabulary assessments before undergoing more than 40 hours of training via televideo. The class included medical terminology, interpreter standards and code of ethics as well as a final written exam.

Tapia says the classes were more challenging than she expected, but it’s been a worthwhile venture. “They have this relief on their face when they learn that I speak Spanish,” she explains. “The in-person interpretation is more personal, and for women’s health issues, it feels more private.”

The Hispanic population continues to grow in Northern Wyoming with Worland sitting at 16.5 percent of its population as Hispanic or Latino, up from 13.4 percent 10 years ago, according to U.S. Census data.

In addition to the services offered by Vazquez and Tapia, Washakie also provides Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) services, which are consoles mounted to portable carts that can be wheeled into a patient’s room. 

“At Banner Health, we continue to invest in our interpretation services for both the deaf community as well as non-English speaking clients,” said Paula Harsin, Senior Manager, Banner Corporate Language and Cultural Services. “With these certifications, we can now offer patients in-person assistance from scheduling appointments to diagnosis to treatment of illnesses.”

Providers can use VRI 24 hours a day, seven days a week for more than 200 spoken languages, in addition to American Sign Language (ASL), to use interpreters via a live, web-based video conference with medically trained and certified interpreters.

Washakie Medical Center is a county-owned hospital in Worland, Wyo., operated by Banner Health, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare systems with 28 hospitals in six states. The hospital offers expanding technology to meet the needs of the Big Horn Basin residents.