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Industry Leaders Announce Major Progress at Third Annual National Medical Interpreter Certification - Open Forum.

National Meeting Solidifies Milestone Agreement on Medical Interpreter Certification and Unveils Results of National Job Analysis Survey

MONTEREY, Calif. -- The third annual National Medical Interpreter Certification - Open Forum was held on May 1, 2009, in Denver, Colorado and was attended by more than 100 organizations from over 25 states and multiple countries. Attendees included representatives of state and national interpreter associations, interpreters and providers of language services, government officials, educators, trainers, hospital representatives, and leaders from a variety of health care organizations and industry groups. Together they advanced the forum's goal to improve and support standardization of language services in the nation's healthcare institutions in order to eliminate linguistic and cultural barriers to quality care for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP).

"The movement toward a truly uniform and universally accepted standard for the national certification of medical interpreters has reached a new level over the past year, and the forum has affirmed this vital progress," said Louis Provenzano, President and Chief Operating Officer of Language Line Services. "Through collaborative working sessions, presentations by guest speakers, and participation by healthcare and language experts from across the country, we have emerged from our meeting with even more resolve, and better direction, to make certification a reality."

Moderated by Linda Joyce, a medical interpreter and language access expert, the forum included an array of presentations, discussions and one of the key highlights, the release of the National Job Analysis Survey results. Forum hosts, Language Line[R] University (LLU), the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), and PSI Services, LLC, also used the gathering to announce the upcoming pilot phase of the National Board performance exam that will be part of the testing for the National Medical Interpreter Certification. Forum participants immediately called for the pilot testing to proceed as an important step toward finalizing the training, education and testing aspects of certification.

"The performance test development has been completed and, at the forum, a formal invitation for medical interpreters to participate in a national pilot was announced," said Danyune Geertsen, Quality Control Director for Language Line University. "Several organizations from different states have offered to participate in the pilot. We are very pleased to see the response from so many interpreters and healthcare organizations."

"Many states, like my home state of New Jersey, have been struggling to develop an infrastructure of professional medical interpreting services," said Hank Dallmann, an interpreter with six years in the medical field. "The information shared at this forum, the overall progress being made toward National Medical Interpreter Certification and the expansion of the medical interpreter profession will help propel our efforts to reduce language barriers that exist in New Jersey's medical community due to a lack of quality trained and certified interpreters."

The written portion of the test is nearing completion and a formal announcement for the piloting of it will commence this month. Another key development during the forum related to the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, a non-profit organization that will provide independent oversight of the certification process. Izabel Arocha of the IMIA announced the National Board's formation and reviewed its goals. The National Board will ultimately represent all key stakeholder groups, including medical interpreters, trainers, employers and regulators.

At the forum, new task forces were also created to support the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. They include the Healthcare Organizations Task Force, Providers Task Force, Employers Task Force, Interpreters Task Force, Insurance-Workers' Comp Task Force, Government Task Force, and Education Task Force.

"Meeting and exchanging ideas with interpreting professionals from around the world - working interpreters, educators and administrators - I felt excited for the future of the profession and honored to participate in such an important effort," said Drew Long, a Spanish/English interpreter from Washington State.

The forum included a presentation of international perspectives on certification issues, with speakers from Canada, China, Australia and Taiwan. Forum attendees learned about steps being taken in these countries to achieve certification standards.

Attendees also participated in the following events:

* A discussion of how to advocate for national certification: Cardinal Point, a government relations organization, presented an overview on how to advocate for certification and national reimbursement in a unified way.

* A review of state issues relating to certification: Jordan Coriza from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health gave a thorough presentation on the role that states can play in the certification process.

* Roundtable discussions: Individual breakout sessions addressed specific issues that are important to each stakeholder in the medical interpretation process, including healthcare organizations, interpreters, insurers, government regulators and educators.

"Individual roundtable discussions were inclusive and open, and were an absolutely critical element of the forum, because they coincided with the nomination of specific working groups whose efforts will continue well into the future," said Provenzano. "Attendees nominated and then joined seven different task forces, each of which will review issues of concern, develop recommendations and report back one year from now at our next event in Washington, D.C."

Among the many forum participants were several interpreter associations, including the California Healthcare Interpreting Association, International Medical Interpreters Association, National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators, International Association of Conference Interpreters, Colorado Association of Professional Interpreters, Medical Interpreter Network of Georgia, and the Nebraska Association of Translators and Interpreters. There were also representatives from government organizations, including the Office for Civil Rights, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and many health care organizations. In addition, a range of language service providers were in attendance. Interpreters accounted for approximately half of the audience and interpret in many languages including Arabic, Burmese, Cantonese, French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and American Sign Language.

"The partnerships and diverse coalitions formed during the National Medical Interpreter Certification - Open Forum will certainly strengthen efforts in Washington toward making national reimbursement a reality," said Suzanne duMont, Vice President at Cardinal Point, a government relations lobbying firm located in the U.S. capital.

For more information about the third annual National Medical Interpreter Certification - Open Forum, please contact Jeanette Anders, Language Line Services' Healthcare Director, at janders@languageline.com or 877-584-2545.

About the Annual National Medical Interpreter Certification - Open Forum

The National Medical Interpreter Certification - Open Forum is an annual convening that takes place each year on May 1 and brings together industry leaders and stakeholders, large and small, private and public, working together to collaborate with a specific focus on National Medical Interpreter Certification. The purpose of this initiative is to improve and support standardization of the quality of language services in our nation's health care institutions and to give every organization and individual a voice and opportunity to participate in an inclusive and transparent process.
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Date:May 11, 2009
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