Nation's Hospitals Hospitals Deal With Patients Speaking Many More Languages

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Mid-year statistics show significant rise in key states.

Major points of immigration, such as California and New York, have a significant rise in the number of languages needed for hospital patients.

California has seen a mid-year rise of 22 percent to 94 different languages compared to mid-year 2004. For New York state, the increase is 15 percent to 101 languages.

CyraCom, the country's largest hospital-focused provider of language services, compiles mid-year statistics from more than 700 hospitals. National and key state statistics are reviewed on a quarterly basis to measure changes and to evaluate possible trends.

Nationally, the number of different languages needed for hospital patients rose six percent to 126 languages. The top five are Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese. Chinese replaced Polish, number five last year.

"Across the nation as a whole, we see the growth in America's diversity," said CyraCom CEO Michael D. Greenbaum. "Our information shows the increase in Asian languages and dialects in particular, though this varies in different parts of the country.

"What this means is that our hospitals must be prepared for more and more diversity to be able to provide quality patient care and deal with public safety issues."

He noted that more hospitals have added interpreters to their staffs but the growing number of languages needed make around the clock availability in so many languages impossible to meet with on-site staff.

More than six million immigrants have come to the United States since 2000 according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

CyraCom provides telephonic interpretation in more than 150 languages 24 hours a day. It also provides other language services such as document translation and interpreter testing and training. In 2004 the company won an award from InfoWorld magazine for its health care technology. Inc. magazine named it to its 2004 list of 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States.

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Jennifer Schaar
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