WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A new Wichita organization, Alce Su Voz, is working to create a law that will demand healthcare interpreters to complete 40 hours of training before disseminating important information to non-English speaking patients.
“We aim to amplify the voices of Spanish speaking patients and families and healthcare providers and that’s why we’re called ‘Alce Su Voz’, ‘Raise Your Voice’ so that policymakers can understand the issues that people have with language barriers in health care,” said Rachel Showstack, President of Alce Su Voz.
Showstack wanted to create the organization after hearing the struggles many of her students at Wichita State University went through while interpreting for their parents.
“A student of mine told me that her cousin had to interpret a message that her father had advanced cancer,” said Showstack. “That was a major concern of mine and one of the reasons I wanted to get this work started.”
Showstack says currently the state of Kansas does not require interpreters to become certified. The bill will ask people to know the basic protocols, code of ethics for healthcare interpreting and require them to understand the basic vocabulary associated with their place of work.
“We want everybody in Kansas to have the opportunity to attain the highest possible level of health, and in order to attain that, you need to have equitable language services in health care, you need to get the information to engage in healthy practices,” explained Showstack.
During the pandemic, ‘Alce Su Voz’ noted issues with the distribution of information about COVID-19 to Spanish-speaking families. She says one of their primary goals is to provide everyone equal access to healthcare.
“With more qualification and experience, interpreters are less likely to committ errors that will affect the health outcome with the patient,” said Showstack.
Currently, the organization is seeking input from the Kansas Hospital Administration, as well as a state representative in order to present the bill to lawmakers.
Showstack says they will also host important workshops for Spanish-speaking families to become aware that they can ask for professional translators when going for a check-up or screening.
For more information about ‘Alce Su Voz’, click here.