Too Few Hospitals Understand Sign Language

May 18, 2012

Health care facilities cannot always provide timely assistance to Kentuckians with hearing loss.  Patients often have a hard time communicating with emergency room personnel.  Virginia Moore, who directs the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, says at least one Kentucky hospital has hired an expert in sign language.

“Jewish Hospital has now hired an interpreter coordinator to help with hospitals as a patient is admitted…you know there were times when the deaf person would go into the hospital and wouldn’t understand what was happening before they had to go to surgery,” said Moore.

Moore says it’s not always possible to have an interpreter who knows sign language available on short notice…

“That we have approximately 150 160 certified and we actually need 300 so..they’re hard to book…so when you have someone come in…you have to call and you hope you can get one that day it may be the next day,” added Moore.

Moore says some hospitals either contract with an interpreter or summon a state certified interpreters as needed.