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New Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters Opens Doors to Improve Provider-Patient Communication & Quality Medical Care

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A solution to help healthcare practitioners and limited English proficient (LEP) speaking patients focus directly on quality healthcare rather than an inability to communicate with each other is now at hand. A new organization is now working to assure competency in language interactions in healthcare settings -- the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).


Incorporated in July as an independent certification agency and 501(c)(6) organization, CCHI was formed by healthcare professionals, interpreters and stakeholders to develop and direct a comprehensive certification program for healthcare interpreters.

"For more than 20 years, the healthcare community and the people they serve have been facing a growing dilemma of not being able to communicate with each other, especially in a critical time of emergency and life-threatening situations," said Mara Youdelman, Chair of CCHI.

Youdelman, senior attorney for the National Health Law Program in Washington, DC, said the formation of CCHI is the culmination of many years of collaboration and work among a variety of stakeholders -- competent and qualified healthcare interpreters, clinicians, insurers and healthcare agencies.

"CCHI exists to be the one voice, with one set of industry-formed and approved standards, working to achieve an assurance of competency and proper training for healthcare interpreters through an accredited vendor-neutral professional certification program," said Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, CCHI Commissioner and Director of Interpreter Services & Community Partnerships with the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics in Madison.

The new credentialing agency is staffed with an outstanding group of professionals selected as CCHI commissioners and advisors. In the next two years, commissioners will work to develop, implement and administer a comprehensive certification program for healthcare interpreters, who are CCHI's customers.

Items on the new commission's agenda include:

  • Completion of a Global Job Task Analysis as a framework for the first national healthcare interpreter certification program
  • Initiation of certification test development customized to the specific practices of healthcare interpreters
  • Collaboration with the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) to develop national training standards for healthcare interpreters

In addition, CCHI has taken an innovative step in the world of credentialing by adding Advisory Panels within its operational structure to address the complexities of certification. Members of these panels will include owners or administrators of recognized and accredited healthcare certification programs, accrediting agency professionals, healthcare interpreter industry experts, and healthcare industry and policy stakeholders.

"As a neutral party, CCHI now takes leadership in the national dialogue on certification of healthcare interpreters with its primary interest focused on assuring the well-being of those who need interpreting services," said Karin Ruschke, CCHI Commissioner and President of International Language Services, Inc. in Chicago.

According to the U.S. Census, more than 25 million people speak English less than very well and may be considered limited English proficient (LEP). Healthcare providers report:

  • 80 percent of hospitals frequently encounter LEP patients
  • 81 percent of internal medicine physicians treat LEP patients frequently
  • 84 percent of federally qualified health centers provide clinical services daily to LEP patients

Fred Hobby, CCHI Commissioner and CEO of the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, also in Chicago and an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, said, "CCHI's work will enhance the quality and professionalism of healthcare interpreters. The Commission will positively impact healthcare providers and patients through better risk management, better cost controls, and higher patient compliance and satisfaction, ensuring more accurate diagnosis and treatment and preventing medical errors."

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    For more information, contact:
    Mara Youdelman

SOURCE Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters
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