English or French is a second language for 22.5% of residents in our area, meaning when it comes to understanding a health care diagnosis, or even explaining symptoms to your doctor, communication can understandably be a bit difficult.
The Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is offering $150,000 per year on an ongoing basis to programs that provide professional interpretation services to that 22.5%.
Jenny Flagler-George Manager of Patient Experience says the funding will help those agencies help others get access to the care they need.
"The budget (for these programs) just is limiting in terms of being able to access, and provide interpretation services to the degree that people really need across the community. So what we're offering is funding for those organizations to be able access interpretation services without the cost being a barrier."
She adds professional interpretation programs have been proven to help reduce unnecessary use of emergency departments, increase access to preventative care, and improve relationships between patients and their healthcare provider.
On top of that, with a more clear understanding of their patient's symptoms, healthcare providers are able to provide a more confident diagnosis and more efficient treatment plan.
Arabic, Sari, Farsi, Mandarin, Serbo-Croatian, Somali, and Spanish are the most common languages requested.
Bruce Lauckner, CEO of the Waterloo-Wellington LHIN adds, "Understanding a health care diagnosis and care plan is incredibly important to a person's health and wellbeing. This can be more challenging for a resident who does not speak fluent English or French. By providing interpretation services, we can reduce health inequities and improve the health of residents and their families in our community."
One of the main partners in the program is the KW Multicultural Centre.