Yampa Valley Medical Center (YVMC) in Steamboat Springs, CO, is a 39-bed acute-care hospital that provides sophisticated medical services to more than 51,000 outpatients annually. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, the region is a popular vacation destination, which adds to the challenge of serving the rural area’s diverse language needs.
“We have 16 different languages used in 2017 at the hospital,” said Erica Gallagher, manager of language services at Yampa Valley Medical Center. “Our highest frequency languages are Spanish, Vietnamese, and Mandarin.
“When you first encounter someone that speaks a language other than the one you speak, you may feel like you can communicate decently, and that’s OK. But the more you have experience with it, you come to realize that, even if one word is misinterpreted, the outcome could be fatal or at the very least, have really negative consequences for the patient.”