The Same Language

“So often it’s the small things that remind you of home.”

Improving the patient experience by addressing language barriers is a critical component of our Culturally Competent Care (C3) initiative. Language services offerings include interpreters and translation of information and documents. However, our services also include exploring additional opportunities to improve the patient experience in culturally sensitive manners.

This is the story of one of our patients who received care at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, CA. His first language was Farsi and, even though he was able to communicate in English, our volunteer coordinator realized he might benefit from the connection of speaking to someone in his native language. A Farsi-speaking student volunteer was asked if she would be willing to visit the patient for some casual conversation. The young volunteer was happy to help, and began visiting the patient during her Sunday afternoon shift for the duration of his stay. Each week, she brought along newspapers and magazines in Farsi and would spend hours talking with the patient about current events as well as his family back home. This small but significant act of empathy helped mitigate the absence of his family, and brightened the patient’s overall care experience.