Device breaks down language barriers

2013-02-06T00:00:00Z Device breaks down language barriersBy Vanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

MICHIGAN CITY | A new device finding its way into hospitals is breaking down language barriers in the medical field.

Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospital in Michigan City, along with several off-site facilities, have implemented a language interpreting system called MARTTI LAN, which works similar to video conferencing.

With one push on a video screen, a medical professional can connect a patient with a certified medical interpreter. More than 200 languages are available.

Mandi Eggert, hospital patient care experience specialist, said the device is used on a near daily basis in at least one of the hospital units.

In the past, the hospital relied on a phone interpreter system, but having the visual connection allows the interpreter to read body language cues, said Trish Weber, vice president of operations and chief nursing officer.

"That's the beauty of MARTTI," she said. "It's live, face-to-face video."

Patients feel more at ease and bond with someone speaking their native tongue.

"It helps decrease their stress level," Weber said.

Staff and patients are embracing the portable device that can be carried or wheeled from room to room.

"The staff loved it instantly," Weber said. "Sometimes you bring a new tool and it takes a while to engage in the hardware. This was instantaneous."

The most common interpreter requests are for Spanish and American Sign Language.

Before this system, people who are deaf had to bring someone with to the doctor's office to interpret. Often, it was a child interpreting for an adult, which can lead to uncomfortable situations, Weber said.

One deaf patient who delivered multiple babies at the Michigan City hospital relied on an interpreter, who would drive from Merrillville and sit with her during labor so she could communicate with medical staff. That is not necessary with MARTTI LAN, Weber said.

Franciscan is slowly rolling out MARTTI units to its other locations, Eggert said.

Weber said workers have had no problems with the interpreter system.

"It improves patient safety, it improves patient communication with their health care provider, it reduces anxiety and fears," she said. "It's an instant relief when they see it, because they know they're going to be heard."

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