Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What did you say?

Speaking of ethnic and cultural diversity, but this time focusing on patients, I thought you might be interested to see the difference in the distribution of languages served by our staff interpreters between 2001 and 2008. Note, for example, the reduced percentage of Russian-speaking patients and the increase in Spanish-speaking patients. Anyone want to offer theories about why these or other changes have happened? Is this just random variation, or does it reflect some other cause during this eight-year period?

The "other" category also shows some interesting changes. See below.


Anonymous said...

I have several theories of why there is an increase in the Spanish patient population.
Having work in the past 15 years in most of the big hospitals in the Boston Area (BMC, Leahy, NEMEC, Wellesly Newton) an having seen how other Interpreter services serve their population, I can tell you:
1- No other Interpreter Services Department has such a comprehensive scheduling system as ours, where most of our appts. are actually scheduled and very few are unscheduled (vs BMC were fully 40% of all appointment were unscheduled and the wait for an interpreter was 4 to 5 hours back in 2002, the Brigham hospital has some scheduled appts but it also depends on clinics calling ISD and Interpreters running to the clinic provided there is someone free., so does Children’s and Faulkner and MGH)
2- The way we treat our patients in this Hospital is nicer at all levels from the ambassadors to the secretaries to the techs, nurses and doctors. NEMEC used to be like BIDMC but customer service failed miserably during the mergers of the 90’s, don’t even get me started on how patients are treated in BMC, or that elitist World renown MGH.
Many, and I mean hundreds of patients that I used to see in those other institutions are now coming to BI, they have conveyed to me that the reason is that the way they are treated by all of us is great, providers are top notch, and I’m happy to say that their interpreters are great and always available.


Anonymous said...

This is just a complete postulation, but here's my theory for the reduction in Russian-speaking patients: In the decade following the fall of the Soviet Union (1991-2001), the Brain Drain caused a spike of Russian immigrants in the US. Many of these immigrants were scientists, so presumably Boston would have been an attractive city. In the seven years between 2001 and 2008, Russian immigration has probably leveled off, while the original Brain Drain immigrants could have relocated, moved back home or simply learned English.


Lisa G said...

Interestingly, throughout the 70s and 80s, my hometown (Palm Coast, FL) was heavily marketed to Russian speaking communities in the northeast as a retirement community. I wonder how many of your losses became our gains due to retirement?