Mary Bufwack, Ph.D., CEO of United Neighborhood Health Services, wrote in the Tennessean that the cost of providing interpreters is relatively low, but withholding them can be expensive:
Language barriers have resulted in the wrong diagnosis, the wrong medications, unnecessary hospitalizations and in one emergency case, permanent disability.
But the danger of a lack of language services does not only result in poor health care and harm to the individual unable to speak English. Entire communities can be put at risk.
By purchasing language services in bulk, all providers, no matter how large or small the volume, have access to high quality services at affordable rates. All native languages can be served, not just those that are common.
Language services are essential for an effective and high quality public health and health-care delivery system. In Nashville we need language policies that support the continued development of these services.