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New Interpreter Pilot Program Seeks to Break Down Language Barriers in Allentown | WDIY Local News

City of Allentown
EMS Chief Mehmet Barzev holds an iPad equipped with video remote interpreting technology, provided by Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Allentown has announced a new interpreter pilot program to improve communication between health workers and residents. WDIY’s Shamus McGroggan has more.

On Tuesday, the city unveiled a new pilot program with Lehigh Valley Health Network to provide interpreter services.

According to a release, services will allow city health workers and emergency responders to better communicate with residents and patients for whom English is not their preferred language.

Through the program, LVHN is providing Allentown EMS and the Allentown Health Bureau with video remote interpreting technology.

This allows health workers to be connected to the health network’s trained interpreters or be routed to a vendor that can provide translation services in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, ASL and other languages.

The technology is available 24-7, and is accessible on iPads, which were purchased through the Health Care Trust of Anne Constance and Carl Robert Anderson at LVHN. Allentown EMS received five iPads and the health bureau was given two.

The city said while its EMS paramedics and Health Bureau staff are trained in their fields, few are bilingual or multi-lingual. By comparison, nearly half of Allentown residents speak languages other than English.

The release notes that language barriers can have a severely negative impact on the quality and cost of healthcare and reduce patient and medical provider satisfaction.

Health officials said the new interpreter services will improve access to essential services and amenities, support efforts to provide culturally appropriate care, improve confidentiality, and allow for more natural interactions, among other benefits.

(Original air-date: 8/24/22)

Shamus is WDIY's Membership and Development Director, responsible for managing the station's membership activities, grant writing, public relations, and online activities. He is also the producer and host of Tape Swap Radio.
Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.
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