It’s every new parent’s nightmare – having a critically ill infant.
A stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be a stressful and emotional experience for families with a sick newborn.
But what if there was another element to increase anxiety? What if your child was in a hospital where the staff spoke a different language?
This is a common scenario according to Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, La. The hospital staff frequently encounters language barriers with patients and their families when English is not their first language.
“Coming into the NICU as a parent already seems like a foreign place with a foreign language,” says Laurel Kitto, MSN, RNC-NIC and Woman’s Director of NICU and Neonatal Transport Team. “Adding the complexity of a non-English speaking family adds to the stress these parents face.”
The NICU staff historically relied on telephonic services to translate communication. But visual communications, such as body language and demonstrations, were lost in translation. Earlier this year, that all changed with the arrival of the department’s first Interpreter on Wheels (IOWs), a mobile device for remote video interpreting. The device’s tablet allows the medical NICU staff to communicate through a live medical translator – including a two-way video stream.
The medical staff has used the new video translator daily, finding the IOW extremely effective. “The language line is a great resource, but there is something about having the video monitor and being able to see a face and facial expressions that improves the communication between staff and families,” Kitto said.
The increasing popularity and demand for the IOW quickly revealed that one device was not enough – even with usage limited to only critical medical information. It became obvious that the department needed additional video translators.
That’s when Starmount stepped in, donating five new video translation tools to Woman’s NICU department during September’s Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month. With six devices, the NICU staff can use the IOW any time translation services are required.
“Starmount and our Unum Group family are committed to supporting people’s overall health and wellness,” said Starmount President Deborah Sternberg. “These video translators assist the hospital in overcoming language barriers to improve the overall patient experience for NICU families, and we are happy to partner with Woman’s on this initiative.”
Photo caption: Starmount President Deborah Sternberg and Laurel Kitto, MSN, RNC-NIC and Woman’s Director of NICU and Neonatal Transport Team at Woman’s Hospital of Baton Rouge, La.