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Interpreter service supporting patients

It’s a busy Tuesday morning at the Oral Health Services clinic at Hornsby Hospital and Denghai is visiting the dentist for a check-up.

Also in the room – but on a video screen - is Gordon Weixin Gong, an NSHLD Cantonese interpreter who is translating the consultation.

Denghai said that by having an interpreter via video, he could understand what was going on better.  

“It’s hard to understand if you can’t see,” he said. 

I feel more included in the conversation
Denghai, patient

Gordon from the interpreter services team said video helps enhance the accuracy of interpreting. 

“In the dental clinic, for example, I can see where the patient is pointing,” he said.

The pandemic prompted a spike in the use of video interpreting services, which are now more widely used in many services in the district. 

The NSLHD has recently launched a practical guide to help staff new to audio-visual calls and the Interpreter Service more broadly.

The Interpreter Service team has over 100 trained interpreters who can help patients via video in 64 languages, including Auslan.

Video interpreters have huge benefits for patients. Adding a visual component removes barriers that can lead to misunderstandings, misdiagnoses and delayed treatments. They are also more readily available and cost-effective when compared to in-person options.

Gordon said for patients, seeing an interpreter’s face via video can also make them feel more comfortable when dealing with a health professional. 

“We need to wear a mask for interpreting but with video, I don’t need to wear the mask and the patient can see my face. And if we smile, they feel warmer,” he said.

The interpreting service is available 24/7 in person, on the telephone or via video. For more information, get in touch with the State-Wide Service Desk on 1300 28 55 33 or the Health Care Interpreting Services 9912 3800.

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