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Overcoming communication barriers with humankindness

California Hospital Medical Center Foundation

Today, more than ever, our world needs compassion. Our communities need caring and our families need support. To meet these challenges, CommonSpirit Health is committed to building healthy communities by advocating for those who are poor and vulnerable, and innovating how and where healing can happen.

Providing inclusive health care starts with communicating in a patient's preferred language.

California Hospital Medical Center’s Cheska Ramos - RN, Telemetry and Barbara Troung - RN, Telemetry

As one of the most linguistically diverse hospitals within CommonSpirit, two out of every three patients at Los Angeles’ California Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) prefer to speak a language other than English. Hospital staff can now communicate in their patients' preferred language—thanks to generous donors. With the help of philanthropy, California Hospital Medical Center Foundation was able to subsidize Video Remote Interpretation devices that offer more than 100 languages at the touch of a button. The donated iPads complement existing in-person and telephonic interpreter services readily available in the downtown Los Angeles hospital.

California Hospital Medical Center’s Windy Virgil, Director of Nursing - Maternal Health; Sherbene Casilla, Director of Nursing - ICU; Edith Ellis - Manager of Employee Health; Simon Mates - Co-Medical Director of ICU; Jenny Choi - Director of Nursing - Telemetry; and Anna Messina Gonzalez - Manager of Nursing - Medical Surgical

“Offering interpreter services is an essential service for our diverse community,” says Garrett South, Director of Patient Experience at CHMC. “Without speaking the same language, we would not be able to provide the high-quality, safe and compassionate care that we are known for.”

Eleven iPads were procured—10 installed on carts on patient floors and one mounted in the front lobby entrance to provide a warm welcome as guests enter the hospital. Once a care provider enters the room, they select the patient’s preferred language and are connected to an interpreter within moments. With this tool, patients can feel confident in their treatment journey and address any questions they may have.

The 12 most common languages spoken at California Hospital Medical Center include:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Korean
  • Arabic
  • Mandarin
  • Tagalog
  • Russian
  • Cambodian
  • Armenian
  • Farsi
  • Vietnamese
  • Cantonese

The Video Remote Interpretation devices also accommodate video calling with interpreters, which has proven equally beneficial for patients.

“We once connected with a deaf man who escaped North Korea and came to America and learned American Sign Language,” Garrett recalls. “Through this technology, we were able to talk with him and learn about his story in his own words. He thanked us for providing a safe and trusting environment, ending the interaction with a hug.”

“Sin hablar el mismo idioma, no podríamos brindar la atención de alta calidad, segura y compasiva por la que somos conocidos.”
“Without speaking the same language, we would not be able to provide the high-quality, safe and compassionate care that we are known for.”

Thanks to donor support, these Video Remote Interpretation devices add a layer of humankindness, especially when patients are at their most vulnerable—allowing them and their care teams to engage in small talk about the weather, crack a joke or even bond over a favorite home-cooked meal during their stay at the hospital.

As a part of the CommonSpirit Health ministry, California Hospital Medical Center is committed to creating healthier communities, delivering exceptional patient care and ensuring every person has access to quality health care, no matter their preferred language. Foundation support and technological advances help them do it with humankindness.

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