Medical interpreters bridge language and cultural differences at Greeley hospital

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GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — Two certified medical interpreters have been busy at a Greeley hospital, not only translating for their patients and families, but bridging cultural differences.

Melissa Villarreal and Dania Davis have worked as medical interpreters for about 30 years combined. The coronavirus pandemic made them busier than ever at Banner Health’s North Colorado Medical Center.

“What we were dealing with at work was intense and very scary,” Villarreal said.

“Long days…10, 11 hours here…patient after patient, with the same condition,” Davis said.

The two interpreters do more than simply translate the language. They understand their patients’ culture and how that impacts their medical care and understanding of it.

“Somebody can study the language, Spanish,” Villarreal said. “Somebody can learn the medical terminology. But if you’re not familiarized with the culture of our demographic, it makes for a not so accurate encounter.”

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