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Published on April 28, 2020

Avera Enhances Translation and Interpreter Services for COVID-19

Because reliable and accurate information is important in understanding COVID-19, Avera is enhancing access to translated patient resources as well as in-person interpreters.

“There’s a lot to understand, from what the virus is, to prevention, symptoms, how to be tested, self-isolation, how to care for yourself and others at home, and much more. We needed all our patients, regardless of what language they speak, to have access to this rapidly evolving information,” said Jason Knutson, DO, Avera Medical Group family medicine physician.

“Avera already had far-reaching language services in place. COVID-19 presented us with a challenge to reach those who speak other languages with potentially lifesaving information,” said Julie Ward, Vice President of Strategy and Social Innovation at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Avera created a 14-page patient toolkit with information about symptoms, social distancing, home isolation, managing symptoms at home, hand hygiene, use and care of cloth face masks, and more. This and other key patient education pieces have been translated into Arabic, Amharic, Bosnian, Karen, Kunama, Nepali, Spanish and Swahili, with Vietnamese and Korean translations underway.

Electronic versions are available online, and printed versions have been made available at hospital emergency departments. Toolkits are available to employers to share with their non-English speaking employees.

Printed education is also being distributed through Lutheran Social Services (LCC) and the Multi-Cultural Center (MCC). Electronic versions are emailed to callers to Avera’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-AT-AVERA.

Spoken language interpretation is available through various means, including Cyracom, a virtual service that provides interpretation in 200 languages. Avera employs in-person interpreters and also contracts with agencies such as LSS and MCC.

Amharic, Arabic, Swahili and Nepali interpreters are working Avera’s COVID-19 hotline, talking to callers and contacting them to explain test results. Spanish and Nepali interpreters are working in emergency departments at the Avera McKennan main campus and Avera Medical Group Family Health Center on Marion Road in Sioux Falls, with Spanish interpreters to be placed on some hospital units.

Avera also created informational videos in Spanish, featuring Luis Rojas, MD, and Nepali, featuring Alex Mulmi, MD.

“We are grateful to our bilingual physicians who stepped up to create videos, and partners like LSS, MCC and others who have helped us accomplish so much in a short time,” Ward said. “We will continue to look for ways in which we can better communicate to help our entire population get through this challenging time.”

Find translated patient materials and other resources at Avera.org/COVID-19.

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