Like most places in the United States, Spartanburg, South Carolina, is growing more diverse.

More than 6 percent of those living in the regions served by the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System do not speak English, and nearly 4 percent of the area’s residents were born outside the United States.

To better serve this population, one of the state’s largest healthcare systems is expanding access to interpreters by deploying Interpreter on Wheels, a video remote interpreting solution.

The system already employs interpreters fluent in Spanish, Russian, and American Sign Language, which comprise the languages most often requested at Spartanburg Regional.

“But we do have instances where we need Swahili,” said Marchele Garrett, manager of the hospital’s Diversity and Language Services, in an interview with WSPA Channel 7. “We may need a French language that we don’t normally have a live interpreter for.”

In these instances, the Interpreter on Wheels (IOW) is particularly handy. The IOW is basically an iPad mounted on an IV stand. The tablet provides access to an app called LanguageLine InSight Video Remote Interpreting, which provides on-demand, one-touch access to video interpreters in 35 spoken languages plus American Sign Language, as well as audio-only interpreters in 240-plus languages. LanguageLine’s team of more than 9,000 professional interpreters is accessible at any time via an internet or cellular connection.

Spartanburg has also made use of Interpreters on Wheels to communicate with its Deaf and hard-of-hearing populations.

The Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System serves Spartanburg, Cherokee, Greenville, and Union counties in South Carolina, as well as Polk and Rutherford counties in North Carolina. All told, the system has more than 9,000 employees who attend to in excess of 174,000 emergency center visits, 25,000 surgical procedures, and 3,800 baby deliveries each year.

The system has recently acquired several new hospitals, and as a result, Garrett says she has noticed a need for more interpreters. Through a grant, the system recently purchased 10 new Interpreters on Wheels, bringing their total to 18.

Garrett says she wants to ensure that a language barrier never comes between a patient and the care they deserve.

"It's important that we have the flexibility when that patient comes in the door,” Garrett said, “[so] that they will be able to understand what is being said to them [or] what is being asked of them and to figure out how we can help them get better."

LanguageLine Can Help

LanguageLine is here to help. For nearly four decades, we’ve made addressing these minority populations’ health concerns a major priority because we believe that being understood is empowering.

LanguageLine works with healthcare organizations around North America to overcome language and cultural hurdles for limited English proficient populations, as well as the Deaf and hard of hearing. Please contact us so that we can learn more about your organization and the particular challenges you are facing.

Photo courtesy of Spartanburg Herald-Journal/Tim Kimzey