Language access offers careers for women at CHA

Pictured is Naomie Florestal (left) and Sara Joint.

Being in the hospital or at the doctor's office can be stressful, especially when you or a loved one is sick or injured. Imagine if you don't speak the same language as your health care team and have questions about getting better. For people who have limited English skills, medical interpreters bridge the language divide and bring a patient's voice to life.

CHA has more than 100 medical interpreters who engage with hundreds of patients each day. Our team of interpreters come from all walks of life and bring their own lived experiences into the hospital and clinic setting to help connect patients to care.

Several medical interpreters came to CHA after receiving training from Found in Translation (FIT), a community-based language access program in Boston, Massachusetts, dedicated to giving talented bilingual women a leg up on career advancement. FIT is free-of-charge and includes common-sense supports such as on-site childcare, transportation assistance, mentoring and career coaching. CHA is an avid supporter of FIT and offers the agency free training space. Two CHA medical interpreters, Naomie Florestal and Sara Joint are graduates of FIT's 100+ hour training program. Recently, we asked Naomie and Sara Joint to share their experiences.

What impact did FIT have on your career?

Sara Joint: FIT made a huge difference in my life. I always wanted to become a medical interpreter and help people from different backgrounds engage with their care. After obtaining my credentials, I became a member of the Language Access Fellowship at FIT. As a Senior Fellow, I currently work for the organization as a Language Coach and an Anatomy and Physiology Instructor.
Naomie Florestal: FIT allowed me to harness the skills I already had and develop a new profession.
After graduation, FIT continues to support its trainees through practical skills, education, networking and other professional opportunities. They helped me get my first medical interpreter job and I am forever grateful!

How were you connected to CHA?

Sara Joint: CHA was always a place I wanted to work at because of its diverse patient population and progressive team of staff and providers. Early this year, when a role opened up at CHA, I contacted the manager of Multicial Affairs and Patient Relations to express my interest. I am deeply honored to be serving my own Haitian community each day.
Naomie Florestal: When I first arrived in the United States, CHA Cambridge Hospital was the first place I came to for a headache. Even though I spoke English, they offered me the support of a medical interpreter. It was so comforting! After my training was finished, I saw a role at CHA and jumped at the opportunity to interpret for Haitian Creole and French-speaking patients.

What do you enjoy most about working at CHA?

Sara Joint: Each day, interpreters at CHA conduct morning rounds for limited English proficient patients. Recently, after leaving a Haitian patient, I overhead her chatting with her husband on speakerphone. She explained how grateful she was to have an interpreter come each morning to check-in on her and see if she needs anything. The morning rounds are an important component of CHA's approach to care to make sure we connect with patients in their own language.
Naomie Florestal: Overall, I find a lot of value in helping patients find their voice in conversations about their health.

What words or phrases would you use to describe CHA?

Sara Joint: Diverse, inclusive and community-focused.
Naomie Florestal: Efficient, organized and inclusive!

Forty-three percent of CHA's primary care population receives care in a non-English language. We provide language access during over 350,000 encounters a year, in more than 70 different languages. Learn more about diversity at CHA.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.