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Greetings from Greg

Dear colleagues and friends:

I’m excited about all that we accomplished this year but I’m even more excited to think about 2008!

CultureSmart managed in 2007 to expand its list of clients and collaborating organizations, both within and outside Massachusetts. I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to increase the number of people who benefit from our services as we reach out to new communities throughout the U.S. Our talented language coaches and trainers have helped us prepare new medical interpreters from Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Language coaching is a unique and integral part of our comprehensive The Essential Piece program: few other medical interpreter training programs have language-specific components, and I know of no other company offering our diversity of languages.

Best Wishes,

Gregory Figaro

Expanding our Scope in 2007 … to Increase Possibilities for 2008

2007 was a busy year for CultureSmart! Business was up 70 percent over 2006 as we brought The Essential Piece (TEP) training to hundreds of new medical interpreters in several communities. We plan to build on our growth in 2008. We’d like CultureSmart programs to grow more — in quantity and quality. That feels realistic thanks to new and expanded relationships with trade organizations, healthcare facilities, and trainers. This network gives us an even stronger base for training interpreters and working with healthcare organization in 2008. Beyond training more interpreters to serve patients with low English proficiency (LEP) in more places, we’ve remained involved in some of the most important issues facing interpreters and the organizations that hire them.


Interpreters & Trainer:

CultureSmart trained hundreds of interpreters in 2007. Around 70 percent received certificates attesting to proficiency for medical interpreting. To accommodate trainees,
CultureSmart added nine language coaches and lead trainers to the roster:

  • Sue Chow, Mt. Sinai Medical Center (Cantonese and Mandarin)
  • Carolina Grooscors-Arnold, freelance interpreter/translator, and returning trainer (Spanish)
  • Rachel Herring, Franciscan Hospital for Children (Spanish)
  • Alemishet Kidani, freelance inter-preter (Amharic)
  • Kowith Kret, MA Department of Mental Retardation (Khmer)
  • Cathi Kroon, Yale New Haven Health (Spanish)
  • Aurora Ronquillo, licensed TEP trainer for Queens Health Network, (Spanish)
  • Marin Vat, Fall River Housing Authority (Khmer)
  • Jakub Zaic, freelance interpreter (Polish).

Welcome to all! We’re particularly proud to have added Amharic and Khmer and Polish to our language list this year to respond to client requests and expand our offerings for other organizations.

Healthcare Organizations:

Our clients and venues in varied communities and states give us valuable chances to learn and diversify our capabilities. In 2007 we offered open enrollment courses at three Massachusetts healthcare organizations: Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, North Shore Medical Center Union Hospital in Lynn, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton. Culturesmart also presented open-enrollment training programs in Queens, NY, through the Queens Health Network. That program earned a mention in the Joint Commission Resources’ Providing Culturally and Linguistically Competent Health Care. Though CultureSmart wasn’t mentioned by name, the article, “Using Medical Interpretation Services to Improve Quality of Care,” clearly referred to our program as an example of how organizations can train staff for interpreting duties. Meanwhile, our program at Capital Community College in Hartford, CT, is preparing to offer training in early 2008.

Keeping Current with the Field:

We were privileged to work with medical interpreting organizations in 2007, too. Projects included a salary survey for the International Medical Interpreters Association and work on the Standards, Training, and Certification Committee of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care.

Trained interpreters: a necessary expense

Scenario: Why should doctors provide interpreter services, and how can they afford to?

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnicity by any entity receiving federal funds, directs that physicians who receive Medicare and Medicaid funds must arrange interpretation for patients with little or no proficiency in English. How far must I go in implementing this unfunded mandate?


If you’ve ever been ill while vacationing in a land whose language you did not speak, you probably don’t need to be convinced of the compassion and fundamental humanity of having foreign language interpreters for medical encounters. In the U.S., having interpretation available has been federally mandated since 2000 for anyone who receives Medicare or Medicaid funds for patient care.