Tip of the Week
Is it true that Korean is the most scientific writing system, as described by Asian scholar Edwin Reischauer? Get a feel for the various writing systems of the world in the YouTube video above.
The Roman alphabet gets stacked alongside other systems — abjabs, abugidas, syllabaries, and logo-syllabaries — of which most English readers are at best dimly aware. It’s another interesting look at the variety of approaches to the fundamentals of communication.
Does race help determine who’s most at risk for heart attack or stroke?
After years of including this factor in its risk assessment tools, the American Heart Association is yanking it from the equation.
In this New York Times story, Race Cannot Be Used to Predict Heart Disease, Scientists Say, Dr. Sadiya Khan observes, “We should not be using race to inform whether someone gets a treatment or doesn’t get a treatment.'” Kahn, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, chaired the statement writing committee for the American Heart Association.
This change in keeping with a broader trend in US healthcare that aims at removing race from a variety of clinical algorithms.
Sad to say, it’s still handy to have Covid test kits around the house. Here’s a way for your limited English clients to order up a free batch in their first language.
Steer them toward this Minnesota Department of Health site, Say Yes! to Covid Test, accessible here. A drop down menu in the upper right corner offers translations in 37 languages plus English.
Hoping to understand and work more effectively with recent Afghan refugees? Take a look at this deep collection of respiratory illness-related information and resources available via the University of Minnesota’s National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM).
With more than 88,000 Afghani refugees settled in the US since the 2021 Taliban take-over of the country, NRC-RIM’s guide is a good starting point for improving your work with this new population. The online curated collection, available here, deals with topics including:
Here’s a trove of colorful ASL videos from the Minnesota Department of Health. The numerous offerings include topics such as:
- Protect Your Child from Covid 19
- Vaccines and Kids
- What Teens Should Know
- What Are Breakthrough Cases?
- What Are Covid 19 Booster Shots”
- And much more
Wondering how artificial intelligence apps and machine translation will change the landscape for language access? Here’s a free webinar offered by Cross Cultural Communications, set for Wed., Nov. 8, 2023, 10:30 AM.
What Role do AI and MT have in Language Access? will explore AI and MT technologies related to language access in healthcare. Presenters will discuss how these technologies are addressed in Federal laws and regulations, as well as the potential pitfalls associated with their use. Current civil rights complaints, regulatory actions, and peer-reviewed research on language technology and access will underpin the presentation.
- understand the underlying Federal laws and regulations requiring language access,
- understand the uses and limitations of AI and MT,
- be able to articulate the value of human interpreters and translators.
What were the wins, challenges and lessons learned as the Minnesota Department of Public Health’s Refugee and International Health program grappled with the pandemic’s effect on refugee, immigrant and migrant (RIM) populations? Get an assessment at this webinar, Cultural Communications at MDH: Successes, Challenges and Lessons Learned, scheduled for 1-2:30 pm, Wednesday, October 25.
Presenters will share promising practices about embedding cultural communication so public health agencies and other organizations can increase their ability to inform diverse communities and cultures.
By the end of the webinar participants working with RIM communities should be able to:
- define cultural communication.
- understand the principles of embedding cultural communication.
- apply strategies of embedding cultural communication.
There’s still time to register for a free online training course that explores the laws that govern language access for limited English speakers, scheduled for this Wednesday, October 11, starting at 10 am. The webinar will outline providers’ legal obligations to provide translated and interpreted services, and outine how to respond when those laws are violated.
The session is offered by Blue Horizon, the online training platform for Cross-Cultural Communications, and will be led by Carol Velandia (right), a University of Maryland Graduate Professor, language access advocate and curriculum developer.
Here”s a free class from Yale University that can help you use social and behavioral insights to create, implement and evaluate health communications online.
Digital Media for Health Outcomes is designed as an evidence-based tutorial on the key steps to develop successful health campaigns on social media, and to evaluate their performance and impact on health behavior.
Instructors will explore best practices for building messages and campaigns. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to implement a digital communication strategy and evaluate its impact through ad metrics, survey data, cost, and coverage indicators.
Good news on breaking down language barriers for Hispanic patients? No, not really, according to a survey funded by a supplemental medical insurance provider, Aflac.
In the national 2023 study of Spanish-speaking patients, a third of the 2,001 employed adults surveyed said language is an obstacle in their path toward meeting medical needs and understanding insurance policies.
Some key findings include:
- Language Barrier Impact — Language barriers prevent 31% of Hispanics from accessing preventive care resources such as blood tests, pap smears, mammograms, STDs, skin cancer, and colonoscopies.
- Skipping Checkups — The study found that 25% of Hispanics skip regular checkups. Reasons cited include lack of insurance, uncovered costs, and labor disputes.
- Demanding Better Care — More than 60 percent of Hispanic respondents said that healthcare providers and organizations need to better engage and educate the Latino community on the benefits of being proactive with their health and wellness.
- Gender Dynamics — Hispanic men have a more positive outlook on their current and future health compared to women, especially on issues such as controlling their current weight/BMI (64% vs. 45%); financial health (57% vs. 44%); mental health (71% vs. 62%); and physical health (77% vs. 63%).
Here’s a chance to voice your opinions on health equity and optimal health outcomes — and in a way that’s more likely to result in change than simply mumbling around the water cooler.
The Minnesota Department of Health is looking for members to sit on its legislatively-mandated Equitable Health Care Task Force. Members will examine race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, age and disability as they search for ways to guarantee respectful and equitable care.
Want to apply for a seat? Go to Equitable Health Care Task Force or Board/Commission Equitable Health Care Task Force. Applicants must submit a cover letter; other materials such as resumes and letters of recommendation are optional.
Translating health education materials is a step in the right direction. But if the material is difficult to understand in English, translation won’t make it better. Get insight on improving the usefulness of your communication at the virtual Health Literacy Annual Research Conference, hosted by Health Literacy Research and Practice and scheduled for October 30-31.
Keynote Addresses include:
- Making Numbers Meaningful for Patients and Clients, Jessica Ancker PhD, MPH, FACMI, Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
- The Chatbot Told Me to Stop Taking My Medication – Health Literacy and Large Language Models, Tim Bickmore PhD, MSE, BSE, Professor, Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Northeastern University
This online conference includes more than 35 speakers in over two dozen sessions. Among them:
What’s does job security look like for interpreters in the face of recent advances in artificial intelligence? Get the low down from Middlebury Institute of International Studies associate professor Barry Olson, a conference interpreter with 25 years of experience. Olson is also the founder of Interpret America.
- Technologies for the delivery of interpreting services
- Technologies that augment an interpreter’s performance
- Technologies designed to replace human interpreters‘ purpose altogether
There are situations in which good enough is good enough — where AI more or less gets the job done. But in medical, legal and diplomatic venues, uncorrected mistakes could be catastrophic. Hold on tight as the future of interpreting reveals itself.
Getting the language right in health communication is one thing, but placing the words in a relevant cultural context is another. Get insight from industry experts on creating a culturally appropriate environment in a Public Health Communications Collaborative webinar, Noon – 1:30 pm, Thursday, September 21.
- Erica Chung, MPH, COVID-19 Cultural Communications Specialist, Minnesota Department of Health
- Maria Griffin, Owner, Spo-ka’nay Enterprises
- Syreeta Wilkins, Communications Strategist, National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM)
Zoom registration available at Culturally Driven Strategies: Tailoring Health Communications to Build Understanding and Trust.
Here’s a dose of bad news from the Hastings Center on the failures of medical interpretation and the resulting harm to patients.
In this recent essay, Medical Interpretation in the U.S. is Inadequate and Harming Patients, a team of writers observe that there’s a shortage of in-person medical interpreters, which has led hospitals to turn to machine language tools such as Google Translate. You’re more likely to end up in the ballpark if the language in question is Spanish, but watch out if it is, for instance, Chinese. Studies that compare Spanish and Chinese interpretations found that errors are more common in Chinese and more likely to present life-threatening harm.
Throw in a lack of cultural competence training among staff interpreters, and the consequences can include delayed emergency care for children, an increase in errors and costs, and a decrease in care quality and patient satisfaction.
The Hastings Center report goes beyond the mere translation of words and digs deeper into the nuances of the medical exchange. “Expecting patients to adhere to Western constructs of health communication is unfair and unjust,” writers Riya Dahima, Melinda Luo and Vrushali Dhongade contend. “We must consider how linguistic differences and cultural values impact patients’ expectations and decision-making.”
Those hazy days that result from distant fires raise an obvious question: what can I do to protect myself and my family both indoors and outdoors? Here’s information in Spanish and English that offers steps you and your patients can take, plus an explanation on what air quality is and how it is evaluated.
Are you or your co-workers worn down by the stress of trying to meet the needs of immigrant and refugee communities? Here’s information that can help, to be offered by the Metro Immigrant and Refugee Health Network in a WebEx meeting scheduled for Tues., Aug. 8, 9:30-11 am.
The program, Self-Care for Professionals Working with Immigrant and Refugee Communities, will be presented by Dr. Christine Danner, Director of Behavioral Health at MHealth Fairview Clinic Bethesda.
Also included in the program is an overview of the voter registration process.
Among the challenges for refugee youth: overcoming stress resulting from migration and resettlement. At worst they can be subject to abuse, exploitation and trafficking, but also routinely suffer from limited access to resources and the dislocation of existing as a stranger in a strange land.
This free webinar, set for Tuesday, August 1, 12 p.m., will help you define and identify abuse, exploitation and trafficking and offer you strategies for responding. Training is intended for caseworkers, healthcare and mental health professionals, teachers, and anyone else serving children and youth.
Register here: Traumatic Stress Among Refugee Children
What is a problem all too common for medical interpreters? When Kelly Henriquez asked that question at a panel on interpreter self-care at a national conference, the answer she got was, Loneliness.
Henriquez, a dual-certified Spanish medical/healthcare interpreter working in Virginia, noted these trends:
- Many interpreters don’t know where to turn for help.
- Fourteen percent reported they never got training on how to address their mental health needs.
- In-person interpreters were more likely to get an emotional boost from their work.
- Remote workers were more likely to report a decline in mental health.
- Certification such as that offered by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters was a predictor of how many tools interpreters had to fight feelings of isolation and loneliness.
For more detail, and for self-care tips, find Henriquez’s blog post on the subject here.
It’s one thing to interpret with pauses allowed in the exchange between speakers. But as this amusing and instructive video explains, simultaneous interpretation is a more daunting and sophisticated task that requires years of preparation.
The instance depicted by the video throws an especially hard curve, in that the interpreted conversation is between earthlings and an alien. Probably not a situation you’ll encounter in your professional role, but well worth a look to expand your knowledge of the interpreter’s job.
Usually we’re here concerned with the utilitarian aspects of translation. How does a Hmong patient, for example, best learn more about foot care with diabetes, post-op care or child immunization schedules?
This week let’s take a step off the path and consider the artistic aspects of the translator’s job. In this New York Times piece, “Building Something Together’: Translators Discuss Their Art,” five translators describe the joys and frustrations of turning literature from other languages into English.
Literary translators have often gone unrecognized, and the profession has never been much of a route to wealth. Yet, as the Times observes, “The act of carrying a work from one language to another — an art as much as a craft — is anything but mechanical: Translators’ choices are informed by their sensibilities, their emotional landscape, their background.”
Take a look at this video that compares the efforts of two human interpreters against interpretation provided by the AI app, Kudo. The results? Less weighted against AI than you might think.
The human interpreters found some of the language employed by their AI counterpart “borderline nonsensical,” and observed that pauses in speech confused the interpretation app. But in cases where the speaker was throwing out a torrent of words, AI did better, they allowed. “I was taken aback,” said one, that the app conveyed all of the content.
These, of course, are the early days of this technology. At the moment, neither of the humans felt it was ready for situations where a lot is at stake — such as negotiations among nations, courtrooms and medical environments. But to watch the video is also to realize that big changes are right around the corner.
Navigating the medical, governmental and business structures of the US is a routine challenge for college-educated native English speakers. Now imagine attempting the same as a recent immigrant. And now take it a step further: you’re a child in an immigrant household, but you’re the most proficient English. You have now become the family translator, with all the perils and responsibilities that come with the role.
This 20-minute film, Translators, is a deeply moving view of these fraught situations. The children and families depicted struggle to do the best they can, but the many difficulties come leaping off the screen. The film presents tough, complicated encounters, but leaves the judgments up to you. It’s well worth your time.
Get a handle on understanding the effect of traumatic stress on children who have been displaced and relocated by force in this free webinar, Traumatic Stress Among Refugee Children and Youth, set for noon to 1:30 pm, Wednesday, June 21.
Presented by Switchboard, the US hub for resettlement service providers, the three-part webinar will explore how stress can disrupt the daily lives of children, complicate their adjustment to their new home, and interfere with their ability to make friends with other kids.
These webinars are intended for direct service staff, including case workers, medical case workers, mental health professionals, educators, and other child- and youth-serving professionals who work with newcomer children and families.
- Describe traumatic stress, resilience, and attachment in refugee children
- Identify common trauma-related reactions and behaviors in children of different ages and developmental stages
- Summarize key approaches to support refugee children and help them to thrive in their new homes
To register, visit Traumatic Stress Among Refugee Children and Youth Webinar Series
Get a look at a version of the future — here’s an AI-powered robot that switches with alacrity from English to German to Chinese to Japanese in a Q&A with an off-screen interviewer. A video of the conversation appears in this New York Post story, ‘World’s most advanced’ AI robot speaks several languages in creepy video.” Hard to say what’s most unsettling: the robot’s facility with language, or the visible mechanical body parts attached to a more-or-less human face. You can’t watch without wondering, If this is a fork in the road, where are we going to end up?
A global study recently published in the magazine Nature reveals a solution to lowering death rates among women: make cash grants to them and their families. In countries making such payments, deaths among women fell by 20 percent, while deaths among children younger than five dropped by eight percent. The analysis encompassed seven million people in 37 countries.
The results were roughly the same whether the grants had strings attached, such as school attendance, or where payments had no additional requirements.
In a companion piece in the New York Times, University of North Carolina epidemiologist Audrey Pettifor said the findings are relevant for rich and poor countries alike. Meanwhile, concerns about misuse of the funds, such as squandering money on drugs, alcohol or junk food, turn out to be trivial. “The data just doesn’t back that up,” she said.
The New York Times recently took a crack at explaining the latest permutation of diversity training in this story: Why Some Companies Are Saying ‘Diversity and Belonging’ Instead of ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’
Reporter Jennifer Miller describes a new generation of diversity consultants who are selling “belonging” and “bridge building” to corporate clients. Miller writes: “They are coming to the aid of executives who fear that national divisions are penetrating the workplace, threatening to drive a wedge between colleagues and making everyone feel anxious and defensive.”
Critics contend that they “can see that corporations want to have a structured conversation around how allowing all of us to thrive will help us all collectively,” but worry that “belonging” gives cover to people who would rather maintain the status quo. “There’s still a large percentage of people who have a zero sum mind-set. If I support you, I am going to lose.”
Did your patients postpone well-child visits and immunizations during three years of worry about COVID-19? Here are reminders in Hmong, Spanish and Somali that explain why they should get back on track. This Minnesota Council of Health Plans website explains which immunizations are critical for children at various ages, and shows how to get up-to-date records of which specific shots a patient’s child needs.
A recent Tip of the Week reported on research showing that more money and more education generally protects women from bad birth outcomes — except if you’re Black. Compared to the richest white mothers, the richest Black mothers and their babies are twice as likely to die from childbirth.
Here’s a follow-up story in the New York Times, Unwanted Epidurals, Untreated Pain: Black Women Tell Their Birth Stories, that offers a personal version of negative experiences that Black moms suffered while navigating the healthcare system.
How does the trouble start? “Long before women become pregnant,” researchers told the Times. “It happens across health care settings, with research showing that even if medical staff is empathetic overall, just one such interaction can have a big effect. It continues through childbirth, when discrimination, unconscious or not, affects Black mothers’ hospital care.
“These long-term issues of disparities in maternal outcomes can’t be boiled down to class,” said Tyan Parker Dominguez, who studies race and birth outcomes at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. “Racism doesn’t operate along economic lines, because even when you control for that, it’s still a factor.”
Communicating health risks in an emergency to immigrant, refugee and migrant communities can be tricky. Get help via this best practices webinar, set for Tuesday, May 9, noon – 1:30 p.m., offered by the Minnesota Department of Health and the National Resource Center for Refugees Immigrants and Migrants.
The goal is to sharpen the abilities of public health workers to communicate crucial information during a crisis. “The webinar,” organizers say, “will provide a cultural lens in risk communication with RIM communities.” Speakers include Sahan Journal founder Mukhtar M. Ibrahim, plus Doug Schultz and Michael Schommer from the Minnesota Department of Health.
In case you missed it until now, here’s a lively online exhibition offered by the Smithsonian Institution. The Bias Inside Us sets out to:
- Help people understand and counter their implicit biases.
- Build capacity in communities to convene dialogue that will increase empathy.
- Inspire more inclusive schools, communities, and workplaces.
This presentation comes in these five sections:
- Bias Lives Inside All of Us
- The Science of Bias
- Bias IRL*(*in real life)
- Serious Consequences
- Retrain Your Brain
Here’s another way of looking at the causes of health disparities. Thirty years ago, University of Michigan researcher Arline Geronimus advanced a theory that the stress of living in a racist society can lead to bad health outcomes for marginalized groups.
Attempting to explain the immense difference in mortality rates between Black and white babies, Geronimus had gathered data on more than 300,000 pregnant women. Black babies then died at more than double the rate of white babies in their first year of life. The greater rate of Black teen pregnancies was commonly assumed to explain the gap.
Geronimus’s investigation stood that hypothesis on its head: Black teens’ babies were healthier than those of Black women in their 20s and older. Geronimus speculated that because Black teens had endured fewer years of racism-induced stress, they gave birth to healthier children. She labeled this stress as “weathering,” like a rock worn down in a vigorous stream.
For her trouble she was attacked so vociferously from both the left and right that she retreated from the debate. Now, three decades later, further investigation on the effects of stress and trauma has given her early work new life and resulted in her recently released book, Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society. Get a run down on Geronimus’s analysis and its contemporary uses in this New York Times piece, How ‘Weathering’ Contributes to Racial Health Disparities.
If you’re interested in the life span of languages, here’s an intriguing story in the New York Times, New Mexico Is Losing a Form of Spanish Spoken Nowhere Else on Earth.
The piece describes the arrival of Spanish-speaking migrants who settled in a remote corner of what is now New Mexico in the late 1500s. Cut off from the flow of Spanish-language speakers in more accessible locales, this version of Spanish came to incorporate vocabulary from native languages, and, eventually, English, while retaining verb conjugations trapped in the 1500s.
But with youth more interested in computer screens, and an older generation still conversant in the dialect dying out, the future of this Spanish subset is uncertain.
“Our unique Spanish is at real risk of dying out,” Cynthia Rael-Vigil, 68, told the Times. Rael-Vigil traces her ancestry to a member of the 1598 expedition that claimed New Mexico as one of the Spanish Empire’s most remote domains. “Once a treasure like this is lost, I don’t think we realize, it’s lost forever.”
Read about efforts to preserve this tongue in the link above.
Here’s help on getting your health messages across in a way that most people can understand. Check out a new resource from the Public Health Communications Collaborative, Plain Language for Public Health.
Clear communication helps beat back harmful health-related fabrications. “When accurate information about public health is hard to find or understand, it’s easier for false and misleading information to circulate. Using plain language can help your audience find what they need and understand what they find,” the authors note.
The guide walks you through the following three steps:
- Step 1: Prepare Your Communications
- Step 2: Develop and Organize Your Communications
- Step 3: Review and Testing
Good news if you happen to be an athlete, bus mechanic, or short order cook. Those professions are judged to be least affected as artificial intelligence becomes, well, more intelligent, according to a paper published in March by University of Pennsylvania and Open AI researchers, “An Early Look at the Labor Market Impact Potential of Large Language Models.”
What’s good for short order cooks could shape up poorly for translators and interpreters. The researchers determined whether AI apps could reduce by at least 50 percent the time required for a human to complete a work task. Translators and interpreters topped the list of AI endangered professions, with more than 75 percent of their job functions vulnerable to AI advances.
For interpreters and translators, the news isn’t all dire. The paper’s authors explain that their work won’t necessarily be fully automated and eliminated. AI-powered software, however, may be able to “save workers a significant amount of time completing a large share of their tasks.”
See a quick rundown of most affected professions on the slator.com website, here.
Get a close look at the continuing deep economic disparities among Minnesota’s different cultural groups in “The Economic Status of Minnesotans 2023,” a new report by the Minnesota State Demographic Center.
The report analyzes data points that compare the state’s 17 largest cultural groups, including Somali, Hmong, Mexican, Dakota and white, among others.
The report highlights glaring disparities. For instance, median household income ranged from a low of about $28,800 for Somali households and certain American Indian households to a high of $120,600 for Asian Indian households. White households had a median income of about $75,000.
English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish speakers can get easier access to care and treatment — and suffer less risk of serious disease — through a telehealth partnership between the Minnesota Department of Health and Cue Health.
Here’s how it works. Minnesotans who get a positive result from an at-home test can download the Cue Health app and sign up for a virtual consult with a clinician. They’ll be evaluated to decide whether therapeutic treatment is a good option. If so, they’ll get a prescription delivered to their local pharmacy, or, depending on their location, to their home. It’s free, and available to all MInnesota residents.
Get more information on downloading and getting started with the Cue Health App. Click “Get Started” for options in English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish.
If you’re on the lookout for shocking statistics, here are some from a recent New York Times story, Childbirth Is Deadlier for Black Families Even When They’re Rich, Expansive Study Finds.
For the richest white mothers, 173 babies die before their first birthday per 100,000 births. For poorest white mothers, 350 babies die. But for the richest black mothers, 437 of their babies die before that first birthday, while 653 babies of the poorest mothers die within the same time span.
What’s to be done about that? One step is to participate in the upcoming Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act: Anti-Racism and Implicit Bias Curriculum Informational Meeting, scheduled for Thursday, March 2, 12-1 p.m.
Sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Section, the eLearning course described in the meeting is designed for hospitals with obstetric care and birth centers. MDH has partnered with the University of Minnesota Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity (CARHE) which developed an interactive eLearning course to meet the criteria listed in the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. This Minnesota law, which went into effect in January 2023, addresses inequities in maternal health care, and requires hospitals with obstetric care and birth centers to:
- develop or access a continuing education curriculum,
- make available a continuing education course on anti-racism training and implicit bias.
- Research behind health misinformation movements.
- Practical and evidence-based solutions to support librarians, health educators, and direct care providers in combating the spread of all types of health misinformation
- The effects of health misinformation on individuals and communities.
- Tools to understand health research, combating social media and community spread of health misinformation.
Who’s it for? Librarians, health professionals, new and experienced researchers, students, and others interested in the research behind health misinformation and practical and evidence-based solutions to combat health misinformation.
This just in from the Minnesota Department of Health: short videos about the vexatious issue of long COVID, translated into Spanish, Somali, Hmong and English, available here.
These videos are a contribution to narrowing the disparities of long COVID on different communities. Minnesotans of color, American Indians, people with disabilities, those who live in rural or low-income areas, people in the LGBTQ community, or those who are homeless or in unstable housing may be more likely to experience long COVID. Find a descriptive sheet on long COVID symptoms, treatment and prevention (in English) here.
An extensive list of related resources and support, again provided by the Minnesota Department of Health in English, is available here.
Take a look at this New York Times article — ‘I Don’t Want to Die’: Fighting Maternal Mortality Among Black Women — that describes the life-saving benefits of a St. Louis doula program.
The article outlines the need for culturally specific care for Black mothers-to-be. “Nationally, Black women are nearly three times as likely to die from a maternal cause as white women: The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. The 2020 rate for white women was 19.1 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“Over the years, mounting research and high-profile cases of fatal or near-fatal experiences — from that of the tennis superstar Serena Williams to an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have shown that the grim statistics are often a result of a health care system that leaves Black mothers to fend for themselves.”
Usually we’re concerned with the vicissitudes of communicating across language barriers. But here’s another way to think about how you’re interacting with patients. Recently the New York Times explored a few of the unspoken pitfalls by which patients get a message far removed from your intentions.
For instance, are the robes you offer uncomfortable and unintentionally revealing? Is the exam room freezing? Is the waiting room TV blaring a never-ending litany of disturbing news? Do the stirrups in a gyn exam room face the door? In short, have you created a physical environment in which patients feel respected or devalued?
For a more detailed analysis of the inadvertent non-verbal messages you may be sending, see How Would You Redesign Your Doctor’s Office: The way clinics make patients feel is an important part of their care.
For would-be asylum seekers attempting to enter the US, the road got longer last week, as President Joe Biden announced new restrictions on people fleeing conditions in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti. Those who simply show up at the border without official paperwork will be denied entry, Biden declared.
In November, more than 82,000 migrants from those four countries crossed into the country illegally.
As many as 30,000 people per month from the four countries will be given the chance to migrate legally to the United States if they can afford a plane ticket, get a sponsor, download an app, pass a background check and meet other requirements.
Biden’s policy shift drew condemnation from all sides. Immigration advocates derided him for doubling down on anti-immigrant measures that were part of the Trump playbook. Meanwhile, Trump-era hardliners said Biden’s new policies would continue to allow thousands of migrants to enter the US while their cases are heard.
For more detailed information on the ongoing immigration imbroglio, check out Biden Announces Major Crackdown on Illegal Border Crossings in the New York Times.
So you’ve tested Covid positive but wonder what your next move should be. Here’s help — for free, and in English, Hmong, Spanish and Somali — for Minnesota residents who have shown Covid symptoms within the past five days. Download the Cue Health app, sign up with a Minnesota address and you qualify for a virtual consult with a licensed clinician who can help you decide whether therapeutic treatment is a sensible option. If the answer is yes, the clinician can send a prescription to your local pharmacy. In some parts of the state, the meds can be delivered directly to your home.
You don’t need health insurance to qualify for treatment. The app is touted as fast and easy by organizers, and accessible to anyone with a mobile device.
Here’s another rendering of the trauma that can underline a refugee’s life, this time describing the flight of “Amin” from Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over. The film, Flee, is a true story, rendered primarily in animation in part to protect the identity of the main characters.
As if Amin’s life weren’t complicated enough — his father has been disappeared, his family will eventually be scattered across Europe after harrowing experiences with traffickers and cops — his attempts to adapt to life in Moscow, Scandinavia and the US are additionally complicated by his identify as a gay man.
The film, by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, received Oscar nominations for both animated feature and documentary. Interviewed by Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Amin explains, “When you flee as a child, it takes time to learn to trust people,” he says. “You’re constantly on your guard.” The most surprising and affirming moment in this film is when Amin reveals to his family that he is gay.
Unlike most other tips here, there’s a small price tag to stream this video on Amazon Prime, YouTube or Hulu. But at $2.99, it’s probably the best deal you’ll get today.
How to interpret musical performance for the deaf? That’s the question taken up by the video above, where ASL interpreters transform a song for the hard of hearing.
The nuts and bolts of rendering music in ways that will be meaningful and moving to a deaf audience are explored in this Datebook story, “Deaf interpreter helps the emotion of music come through.” Taken together with the video, it’s a fascinating look at the many ways in which music can be experienced.
Here’s a sweet, short video on how to keep your new baby safe, offered up in English, Arabic, Dari, Burmese, Karen, Lingala, Kinyarwanda, Nepali, Pashto, Swahili, Tigrinya, Ukrainian, French, Russian and Spanish.
In simple, direct language, Who She Will Become touches on the importance of car seats, reading to children, barriers to prevent injuries, doctor visits and vaccinations. It’s produced by the University of Minnesota’s National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants and Migrants.
Among the challenges for medical interpreters: how to convey bad news from providers to patients and their families. This hour-and-a-half webinar, presented by InterpretAmerica, takes on the sensitive issues involved.
The recorded webinar is geared toward providing interpreters with tools to anticipate and deal with difficult scenarios. The questions explored here include:
- Should interpreters stick to strict interpretation in emotionally fraught encounters?
- Should they serve as advocates or cultural brokers?
- Should they consider their own emotional quandaries when delivering bad news?
- How do these decision points intersect with the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice?
How long do languages last? Already it’s not uncommon to hear children of immigrants admit they don’t speak their grandparents’ native tongue that well. What about their children and grandchildren? What does it take to save a language?
Here’s a story from the Isle of Man, stuck in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. In 2009, UNESCO declared the traditional language of the Island, Manx, extinct. A recent story in the New York Times explained, “For centuries, Manx — part of the Celtic language family like Irish and Scottish Gaelic — was how people on the island communicated in their everyday lives. But by the 19th century, the English language had overtaken it, and many on the Isle of Man raised their children to speak only English amid an increasingly derogatory, sometimes even hostile, attitude toward Manx.”
But the islanders did not uniformly buy the argument that their language was dead. Residents pushed to save the old tongue, promoting its use as part of the local school curriculum in addition other tactics. Read the complete story, An Ancient Language, Once on the Brink, Is a British Isle’s Talk of the Town, here.
With RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) clearing out local school classrooms, here are translated health information sheets that can help ESL patients get a better understanding of a disease with potentially dire outcomes for young children. Below find pieces from various sources in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali.
Spanish, English, cited on Medline:
- Bronchiolitis (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV) in Infants and Young Children (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- RSV: When It’s More Than Just a Cold (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV) in Older Adults and Adults with Chronic Medical Conditions (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
English, Spanish, Hmong, from Children’s Hospital