Language barriers not a problem for local hospitals

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Several hospital workers faced a language barrier Tuesday night because several of the patients from the produce company were Spanish-speaking.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has the latest.

The people at Saint Mary's, Parkwest and UT say they were ready to deal with the language issue when patients began arriving.

Dealing with language barriers can present special challenges for hospitals who must be ready when large amounts of non-English speaking people arrive for treatment.

"We make an effort to have people who speak a multitude of languages on staff or available at all times," said Craig Griffith from Saint Mary's Hospital said.

Travis Brickey with UT Medical Center says they also have people on staff to deal with such issues such as today when six people came here. He says they were able to handle the situation and not call in additional help. At Parkwest, they also say preparation is key.

"We brought the patients in, determined what their language requirements are, and we had several different systems that we use to communicate with folks," Parkwest Emergency Director Darrell Brackett said.

All hospitals say dealing with the language barrier is part of a changing world.

"That's something that almost every health care facility has learned to deal with over the last several years as the Hispanic population has grown," Griffith said.

Travis Brickey at UT says they also have people they can call in if need be.

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