A Message of Support to Interpreters from WCMS Board Presidents

March 24, 2017

Dear Interpreters,

Recently some of you reported to WIN that you and the patients you interpret for have been experiencing harassment and bullying in our waiting rooms. These incidents have been reported to the CEO, Miriam Schwarz, who in turn shared the information with her WCMS Boards.

The WCMS Foundation Board and the WCMS Association Board are grateful to you for bringing these issues to our attention. We greatly appreciate the work that you do. We are appalled that this is happening, and we are saddened that you and our patients are suffering from harassment in waiting rooms. The protection and care of our patients and contracted interpreters are our first priority. Bigotry and discrimination in health care settings will not be tolerated. We want you to know that you and our patients have our full support.

As interpreters, you are on the front lines and you will see and know things that we may not. Your insights into what is going on strengthen our ability to serve all patients. If there is hostile behavior directed at you or our patients, we always want you tell us. Patients must feel comfortable and safe accessing medical care, regardless of national origin.

Andi Smith and Miriam Schwarz are working on various approaches to raising awareness of and addressing these issues, from writing op-ed pieces to developing multi-lingual “Discrimination-Free Zone” signs for office waiting rooms. They will also be collaborating with other concerned organizations to develop protocols and training materials for health care staff and providers. We will share materials with you as they are developed.

Again, please encourage patients you are interpreting for to share any discriminatory behaviors they are experiencing with practice staff and providers. If you personally experience and/or witness such behavior, please do the same, and tell Andi Smith about the situation. She will keep Miriam and the boards apprised.

As always, we are grateful to the service you provide to us as physicians and to our patients.

In gratitude,

Mary Shell Zaffino, MD
Western Carolina Medical Society Association Board President

Britt Peterson, MD
Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation Board President


Click here to see the diverity flyer many practices will be posting