Houng Dain, Htaw Moo and family immigrated to Akron after spending years in a Myanmar refugee camp. Speaking only Burmese and Mon, they faced extraordinary challenges in housing, transportation and healthcare.
Those challenges multiplied when mother, Htaw, delivered premature twins at a local hospital and they were transferred to Akron Children’s NICU. Our Language Access Services called in a medical interpreter for help.
Because they were premature, twins Weang and Rot were underweight. In fact, Weang required a feeding tube. These problems had to be accurately conveyed to the parents so they could consent to treatment.
The twins stayed in the NICU for about six weeks; Weang later returned for abdominal surgery.
Speaking through interpreter Winston Chu, Htaw and Houng said the interpretation worked very well.
The proof? Two healthy, active 2-year old boys.
Natasha Curtis coordinates Language Access Services for the Akron Children’s system, acting as liaison between the hospital and outside interpretation services. She has implemented a community approach to access, going above and beyond with interpreters who also drive families to appointments and accompany home care nurses.
“I support our staff in their journey to cultural competence,” Natasha said. “For example, the Burmese feel it’s spiritually unhealthy to separate twins. The hospital responded by adapting Weang’s room to hold Rot’s bed, too.”
“The best measure of our success is secondary migrants,” said Natasha. “These are people who’ve talked to immigrants in Akron and are actually resettling here because of our services.”
Last year, Language Access Services provided 4,017 hours of face-to-face interpretation and 13,146 minutes of phone translation—all free to the families we serve.
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