Hospital spends $3 million a year to remove language barriers

Accreditation Connection, April 3, 2009

In order to clear the lines of communication between healthcare providers and a diverse population of patients, one Minnesota hospital spends $3 million annually on interpreters in more than 50 languages, the New York Times reports.

Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis is working to break down the language barrier between its diverse patient population and staff in an area where Swedes and Norwegians maintained separate hospitals long ago. Patients arrive with conditions brought with them from their homelands—traumas of war, intestinal parasites, infections uncommon in the continental U.S.—and also need education on common U.S. ailments with which they might not have had previous contact.

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