GARDNER — Good doctor-patient communication is vital to a positive health care experience. And, thanks to a grant from United Way of North Central Mass., differences in language are no longer a barrier for patients at Heywood Hospital.
Officials from the Gardner hospital unveiled two new video interpreter machines that give doctors and patients who speak different languages a way to communicate. Deaf-Talk uses a camera so an interpreter can remotely see the patient signing and the patient can see the interpreter on the screen. The service also provides translation in 10 other languages, considerable improving communication between the doctor and the patient.
The hospital previously had one Deaf-Talk video machine, which wasn’t portable. As a result of the $50,000 grant from United Way, two Deaf-Talk video machines are placed on a rolling cart and moved to any room with a high-speed phone line.
According to Barbara Nealon, director of social services, the grant also provided money to install high-speed phone lines for each nursing unit and all outpatient departments. “Due to the lack of American Sign Language interpreters, we were not able to meet patient needs. We will no longer have to wait four to 24 hours, we can now have an interpreter within five to 10 minutes.”
In addition, part of the grant money will be used to reinstate the Community Health Series, which provides general patient education on a variety of health care topics through seminars and outreach efforts. The topics will include healthy hearts, diabetes, women’s health and cancer.
The United Way of north Central Mass. Community Care Fund serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Barre, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.