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3rd National Medical Cetification Forum – Speech on updates on Medical Certification for Interpreters, by Louis Provenzano, President and Chief Operating Officer of Language Line Services May 6, 2009

Posted by Louis F. Provenzano Jr. in Medical Certification.
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The video of the speech below will be on the National Medical Board Website (www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org) as well as this site shortly.Several of you have asked for the entire speech to give to your colleagues. I am honored to have shared the great progress that was made in the last year on National Medical Certification. While there is much work to do, in 2009 “Yes we can and we will ! ”



Text of Speech given at 3rd Natonal Medical Interpreter Certification Forum / Denver, May 1, 2009

Thank you Linda, Good morning everyone and welcome. We are honored to speak with and meet you today. It’s great to see that many of you are here for the very first time along with some alumni and veterans from our first May 1st event in Boston and our second last year in Portland.

There are several exciting developments you will hear about today from the key-note and industry speakers planned for this year. I’m sure most will agree this has been an interesting journey so far, and certainly not without some degree of controversy and contention. However, with any successful goal or aspiration, there are usually some challenges and issues to be met and we view this as part of the overall process, often, a very necessary part in order for the process to evolve.

First and foremost, we at Language Line Services would like to take a moment and offer our sincere thanks and recognition to the outstanding work and contributions from the many organizations and individuals involved in this endeavor during this last year.

 This last year was one of significant growth and development, as well as many new beginnings. From the embryonic beginnings started by many groups and individuals to informative collaborative events such as the May 1st event on National Medical Interpreter Certification in Portland and the amazing work and development of interpreter associations across the country gave us what has been a truly exciting year. Individual contributions such as the first publication on Telephone Interpreting: A Comprehensive Guide to the Profession authored by interpreter Nataly Kelly have laid the groundwork, set the tone and gave us plenty to celebrate. The last few months have seen tremendous advances towards the realization of National Certification – so much so, that we are no longer continuing to have simple discussion and conceptual planning sessions, but are now seeing actual results. The learning’s from all of our past discussions and efforts have now been put into practice….and as an outcome, we have even more to look forward to.

Since our meeting in Portland one year ago, we’ve engaged in exciting new alliances one of which is the joining of forces with PSI to provide onsite medical interpreter testing mechanisms and tools for interpreter certification which will soon be available at over 800 proctoring sites across the country We can look forward to even more progress that will unfold as a result of the efforts, accomplishments and hard work built upon the foundations laid during the last two years and before. We can now look forward to harvesting the fruits of our labor and investment in Certification – not years out from now, but here in 2009!

These are indeed exciting times for our profession and the future of language access services for patients and families we all are dedicated to assist.

In January 2009 IMIA, LLU & PSI joined forces to move national certification forward using as a foundation, the collective work that each has accomplished towards certification. As a result, in March of 2009 a new independent board was created to oversee the process of National Certification for Medical Interpreting. The benefits of this instrument far outweigh the issues still left to overcome and will be a win-win for all stakeholders directly affected by the lack of a professional credentials.

So what makes now the time for national certification? Because, many studies have clearly demonstrated that effective communication has a direct effect on patient access to care, patient satisfaction, patient safety and the overall quality of care. As a working interpreter, I believe that these are among the strongest reasons to take a far more aggressive step than we have to move national certification for medical interpreters forward – now !

We are nearing a “Perfect Storm” where the current legislative climate has all the elements in place including Healthcare Reform at the forefront of President Obama’s political agenda, to move National Certification forward today!

With continuing emphasis and stronger advocacy for the reimbursement of medical interpreters;

  • certification formalizes this new specialization
  • It creates a high growth profession as demand continues to outweigh supply by promoting the retraining of unemployed bilingual individuals and increasing the nation’s language capacity

Certification can help address other issues by giving a voice to the profession to address Hospital budgets capped by administrative requirements to provide services for an unfunded mandate to satisfy regulations like – Title VI, ADA, Executive Order 13166, State Laws.

The Joint Commission Study identified Patient Provider Communications as a root cause of most adverse effects. Linguistically diverse patients are often seen without qualified professionals yet, the cost of interpreter services are minimal compared to cost of delays, additional tests, patient visits and hospitalizations.

We are at an important point in our evolution and I think this is a good time for all of us, as individuals, professionals, organizations and community members to reflect on what we have achieved, where we can improve, and what lies ahead! So, with that, I wish to personally thank each of you for showing your ongoing commitment to this amazing process. I hope you will enjoy this session and that you find it productive. In closing, I would like to also take a moment to recognize a special group of people who have and continue to support all our efforts and provide leadership for that effort – the Global Advisory Council.

The GAC voted on Denver Colorado for this years event. Next year’s selected location is Washington DC.

Throughout the day, representatives will be sharing information with you not just a national aspect, but a global perspective. And lastly, please join me in welcoming a newest member of the GAC but not a newcomer to this topic given that the country he represents has had certification for over 30 years, Mr. Sam Campisi from Australia.

My friends, this forum has become a tradition for Language Line and a staple to the industry. To me, taking this day out of our busy schedules once each year is much more important than words can convey. It gives us a chance to reflect. Not only individually, but as part of a larger consciousness. It allows us to take time to truly listen, hear the voice of the each stakeholder, learn perspectives from all over the country and creates an opportunity to define and redefine our profession in order to support the diverse and ever-changing needs of our profession.

These are exciting times for us all, we are truly “Standing on the Edge of History as we witness and participate in the Evolution of Certification for Medical Interpreters”

Last year, I made a promise that we will not only continue our commitment toward certification but we will refocus, and redouble our efforts and produce results instead of continued discussions, I believe and I hope you agree we have fulfilled that promise.

We learned a lot from this past year’s activities and challenges.  These lessons, teamwork approaches and application of collaborative energies are what derive results. With this approach, we can only do better – and be better.

Thank you.

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