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FOR RELEASE: September 15, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Officials Announce New Health Service Interpreter Certification Program

A new Health Service Interpreter Certification Program will begin next month to provide training for persons seeking to be state-certified healthcare interpreters. The program will focus on training and certifying interpreters to provide language interpretation services in all languages spoken in Oklahoma.

The first training will be in Oklahoma City on October 14-16 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Metro Technology Springlake Campus Economic Development Center, 1900 Springlake Drive.
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Officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health are encouraging health departments, clinics, hospitals, state agencies, private medical centers and persons who own their own language interpretation businesses to become state certified as medical interpreters.

“We want to encourage every medical community to register at least one of their current eligible staff for this or future training sessions,” said Demetrio (JR) Gutierrez, Minority Health Liaison for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The training will be the first-ever certified interpreter program in Oklahoma and will be one of only a handful of such programs offered in the United States. Training consists of 20 hours of direct contact instruction in language and cultural aspects of communication, followed by a written exam in English and a verbal exam in the target language selected. The interpreter certification exam will be offered separately from the training. The registration fee for the training is $365.00, which covers all training materials and a required OSBI background check.

The Institute for Issue Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution program at Oklahoma State University will provide coordination and registration services for the state program.

“There is a heightened demand for high quality, standardized communication in healthcare services for Oklahoma’s minority populations,” said Institute Program Director Weldon Schieffer. “Just because a person is bilingual does not mean they are proficient communicators in healthcare delivery systems. Almost all health professions require knowledge of specialized terms and procedures. This training is the baseline to equip interpreters to more adequately fill those specific needs. ”

Training will cover medically specific terminology, the legal and ethical role of interpreters, patient safety, HIPAA regulations on confidentiality, and linguistic accuracy. Written and verbal exams will be used to ensure that minimum criteria are met. Eligibility to enroll requires a minimum of a GED and the applicant must already be fluent in English and one other language. The applicant must also pass a required OSBI criminal background check. The first training class will be limited to 24 people.

Future testing sites will be selected based upon the need to carry training to all parts of Oklahoma in order to meet the needs of local communities. Additional training events are planned for November 2005, and February and March 2006, with dates and locations to be announced later.

Levels of training to be offered will include certified interpreter, certified trainer, trainer of trainers and master trainer level certifications. Interpretation services are required as part of the Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964, and are supported by the JCAHO hospital licensure organization. Interpretation services are also mandated for any medical organization receiving federal funding, pursuant to the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service (CLAS) mandates.

Numerous partner organizations are sponsoring and endorsing this training. The Oklahoma State Department of Health, OSU Institute for Issue Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the OU MEDICAL CENTER are only three of such organizations working to bring this program to fruition.

For more information about the certified medical interpreter program, contact Gutierrez in the state health department’s Office of Minority Health at (405) 271-1337 or view this Web site: http://IIMADR.okstate.edu.

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