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Interpreters provided for patients in the Tri-Cities
A free interpreter will be provided to patients visiting doctors in the Tri-Cities as part of a new pilot project put on by the Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice.
The project is the first of its kind in Canada in a fee-for-service setting with a family doctor and will be funded in conjunction with teh BC Medical Association and the Ministry of Health.
"Open dialogue is vital to positive patient outcomes," said Dr. Patricia Gabriel. "In many cases, patients with very limited English rely on a family member or friend to explain symptoms, which can be difficult if they involve sexual or mental health.
She added that often key information is not passed on, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
"In an effort to avoid that, doctors might order extra tests that wouldn't be needed if we could just communicate effectively with our patients," she added.
As part of the project, an interpreter will be made available over the phone, via access to the Provincial Language Service. It will not require patients to pre-book and the service will be available in more than 150 langauges.
Gabriel has noticed an increase in non-English speaking patients in her practice over the last few years. When other doctors in the region shared her concerns, the pilot project was launched.
"I believe interpretation support will benefit both patients and the system as a whole," she said.
The pilot project will take place over the next few months and the impacts of the program will be assessed to determine the feasibility of continuing and expanding the service.
For more information about the pilot project or the Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, go to www.divisionsbc.ca/frasernw/home.