Dubrovnik in a different light

14th Jun 2013

As I have previously written; from birth I have been a bilingual person and over the years I have learnt different languages because that is my passion. After years of travelling to different countries I had never appreciated first-hand the importance of having an interpreter by your bedside to help you communicate with the doctors and nurses.

From a very young age I have always enjoyed learning new languages and their culture. I consider myself a linguist. Fortunately throughout my adventures round the world I didn't have the experience of going to a hospital; nor needed a doctor until a few weeks ago when I went to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was dropped by a taxi to the main entrance of the hospital and I couldn't understand the signs, after asking a few people I was directed into A&E after explaining my symptoms to a very nice nurse who I was able to get hold of in this very busy environment. This A&E in comparison to others was small (I have been to a few but not as a patient). The first thing I asked was 'do you speak English!' to the first person who caught my eye. In a panic I diverted to my mother tongue I could have tried speaking Croatian however I didn't have the energy to do so. Thankfully and to my relief the nurse said 'yes'. However what if he had said no?! There was someone beside me who had to divert to English as the doctor didn’t speak her native language of Swedish. So it was a struggle for the doctor to calm the patient down as she was getting frustrated she couldn’t relay the information to the doctor. How could she have explained her symptoms the doctor given her the correct medication. The fact the doctor also spoke English was a relief for me however not to the Swedish girl who was next to me, we cannot expect doctors to speak every language. That is where companies like Pearl Linguistics come in that offer Interpreting and Translation Services to the Public Sector. Where the doctor just needs to call the Interpreting Services and request a face-to-face interpreter or call the Telephone Interpreting number and speak to an interpreter in a matter of seconds. In this country we are very privileged to offer services like this to patients.

I would like to thank all the interpreters that work with us. As someone who was in the need of communication with hospital staff in a time of need. Our overall fulfilment rate for this week was of 98% and where we were unable to fulfil a face to face interpreter we offered telephone interpreting.

On that note, interpreters - I would also like for you to put yourself in the shoes of the patient, who are scared of the situation they are in and trust you to convey the information given by the professionals, so please do so in the best of your abilities.

Leana Williams, Public Sector Manager



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