“'Can you imagine?' said Flores, executive director of Voces, a nonprofit organization seeking to provide assistance to Latinos in the Battle Creek area.This is the kind of story that riles professional health care interpreters, of whom there are many in the USA. Of course the hospital ought to have had an interpreter available. But let’s do a different take on it.
“The memory still makes Kate Flores shudder.
“She recounts the story of a local Latino woman who was in the midst of a miscarriage, could not speak English and had no way to make herself understood at the hospital because there was no interpreter.
“So instead, she relied on her English-speaking 13-year-old son in the emergency room, the only person she trusted to make herself understood to doctors.
“It’s that story, and others too much like it, that convinced Flores and others concerned about the local Spanish-speaking community to get behind Voces, Spanish for 'voices'.
“Indeed, language was, and probably still is, the major barrier for immigrants coming to a new country. In this case, children educated in the American school system have a better of chance of communicating than their parents.
“In this story, Flores was amazed that a boy had to be involved in a situation so intimate and private because there was no other choice.
“‘Not only is it illegal, but it’s inappropriate,’ Flores said.
“In the perfect world, Flores hopes Voces will help make sure such a situation rarely happens again."
- There’s no suggestion that the boy involved couldn’t interpret or caused dangerous misunderstanding.
- Inappropriate perhaps, but that’s a matter of mores and the boy was “the only person she [the mother] trusted to make herself understood to doctors.” It was her choice.
- "In the perfect world,..." says Flores. But it isn’t a perfect world. There will always be emergencies where an Expert, or even an Advanced Native Interpreter, isn’t available in time. If it can happen in Battle Creek, how much more is it likely to happen in less developed parts of the world?
Chuck Carlson. Voces establishes itself in B.C. Latino community. Battle Creek Enquirer, September 12, 2012. The article is here. The emphasis is mine.