Comunidad offers Spanish interpreter training

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— Until there is an adult English as a Second Language class, Spanish speakers need interpreters to help them with essential components of day-to-day life, such as doctor visits and parent/teacher conferences, said Maria Martin, Comunidad Integrada program coordinator.

"We could have more interpreters so that patients would know what their doctors are telling them and also to help the doctors know what the patients' symptoms are," Martin said. "If they can't communicate, doctors have to do more tests, more x-rays, which can be very expensive."

And right now, there is more need than there are interpreters, Martin added.

But the need is more abstract than that, too, Martin said. For the different cultures in the Yampa Valley to reach one another, language issues need to be confronted, and interpreters are a stepping-stone along that path.

"More interpreters can help improve the communication between Hispanics and the other residents here in Craig," Martin said.

Comunidad Integrada is conducting an interpreter training session at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in Craig, 745 Russell St., in the Silver Room on the main floor.

Interpreter training is for anyone who is already fluent in another language. Comunidad Integrada is looking at high school students who take Spanish or English as a Second Language classes and Spanish language teachers as people who could qualify, Martin said.

It is not enough that someone is bilingual. He or she need to be trained on how to best serve their clients, Martin said.

"We try to teach an interpreter's role, how they must behave in that function," Martin said. "Even the place they sit or stand in a doctor appointment is very important, so they can be a benefit and not a barrier."

After a training session, potential interpreters are scheduled for an evaluation that includes a role-playing component in which coordinators stand in for doctors, patients or parents and teachers.

Comunidad Integrada receives grants from the Equality in Health Cooperative and United Way to pay interpreters, starting at $20 per hour and going up based on experience and the job.

Interpreters working with legal matters are paid more than ones working with medical issues, who in turn are paid more than in other general situations such as parent/teacher conferences.

Comunidad Integrada is working with the Colorado Rural Health Department to send those interested in pursuing an interpreter career to the Bridging the Gap program in Denver.

Rural Health will match up to $1,000 for any kind of training that has to do with medical issues.

Bridging the Gap costs $500 to $600, and those attending need to factor in food and room expenses. Martin, who took the class recently, said she spent about $1,000 in total.

Comunidad Integrada suggests those interested seek donations themselves, or they can pay half out of their pocket since Rural Health will match their money and pay the other half. Some employers, such as medical providers, will pay for their employees to receive interpreter training.

People may call Comunidad Integrada at 871-4599.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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