Developing the Island’s future medical interpreters

Martha's Vineyard Hospital — MV Times

Mass General Brigham announced in a press release it has awarded the Communication Ambassador Partnership of Martha’s Vineyard (CAP) a $50,000 grant to “support current and future qualified interpreters to provide services to impact access, equity, and patient satisfaction at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital while promoting greater cultural understanding.”

The grant will be used to create a “community interpreting course” designed for Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students, according to the release. Students will be offered professional development and “specialized educational opportunities” based on entry-level medical interpreter training. The course is aimed at creating a talent pipeline for CAP. According to the release, the main benefit of working with local students is “building a workforce of local interpreters who understand the complexities of living on the Island — providing both language access and cultural context to bridge communication gaps.” 

“We are dedicated and committed to delivering the best care to address the needs of our community,” Denise Schepici, president and CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, said in the release. “CAP has demonstrated success in recruiting, training, and retaining interpreters throughout the Island, and we look forward to this important partnership.”

The release described CAP as “an interagency collaboration” with a mission to “provide in-language and in-culture access to all multilingual community members” formed during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was made “in response to the ongoing need for timely and inclusive communication” for all Islanders. Toward this mission, the release said, CAP offers “equitable language access” for multilingual community members through “interpretation, translation, and relevant communication channels.” 

“Our language services create connections across cultures, literacy levels, and languages. We are working to develop a pipeline of qualified trained interpreters to provide support for the Island into the future,” Sheryl Taylor, CAP co-founder, said in the release.

According to the release, English learners at Martha’s Vineyard public schools have grown from 70 students to approximately 500 students over the past 10 years. Most of these English language learners are Brazilian or Brazilian-American. The schools’ population demographics has been a common metric used “to benchmark changing community demographic patterns.” 

“CAP has helped bridge communication barriers for patients accessing school registration, COVID-19, and vaccine-related information and services. We have grown to be a trusted resource for information and support for the multilingual community,” Leah Palmer, CAP co-founder, said in the release.