Erin Schmidt, ESchmidt@ExplorerNews.com
Dec. 14, 2005 - Deberie Connor remembers working with non-English speaking patients daily on her job. She is a registered nurse for Northwest Medical Center.
When patients would come onto her oncology ward, nurses and doctors would have to run around looking for anyone who spoke the required language.
It took time away from the patient and from giving the proper medical attention the patient needed.
Now, that is not the case.
Northwest Medical Center is among all hospitals in Tucson using CyraCom technology.
CyraCom is a Tucson based company, with its main offices at 5780 N. Swan Road, in the Catalina Foothills.
For the past 10 years, CyraCom has been in the business of providing language translation to businesses and hospitals.
The company now focuses primarily on providing a ClearLink dual-handset telephone to hospitals, medical facilities and outpatient facilities.
"It really helps us with the language barrier," Connor said. "The phone really helps."
CyraCom is in more than 800 facilities nationwide and provides more than 150 languages.
Within 25 seconds after a patient picks up the distinctive blue ClearLink phone, a translator is located through a nationwide network and begins the translation process.
Connor can't believe the different language selections that are offered by CyraCom.
She has had patients who have requested to use the phone that spoke Vietnamese, Russian and Spanish. If it wasn't for the translation device, it would have been very difficult to work with the patients, she said.
Michael Greenbaum, CyraCom's CEO, has seen the three major Tucson hospitals jump on the CyraCom bandwagon.
The first hospital to use the technology in Tucson was University Medical Center.
"It's invaluable in a hospital," he said. "If you don't speak the language, we can't figure out what's wrong with you."
In order for the phones to be a success, ease of operation is required.
"Normally when people are in hospitals, they're not there for a party," he said. "They are under some degree of personal stress. With two quick flashes, your into our network."
The flashes Greenbaum refers to are the buttons required for the phone to work. A code must be entered to authorize the use of the translation and to connect to the nationwide network of translators.
The average connect time is less than 30 seconds, he said.
The most requested languages are Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese and Korean.
CyraCom has also perfected many dialects to further assist patients.
Chinese dialects and Spanish are the most requested.
Janice Harris, registered nurse on the neurology department at Northwest Medical Center, has assisted many patients with the ClearLink phones.
"We use them a lot on our floor," she said.
Since January 2005 she can remember using the phone at least 15 times for different patients. And each time she uses it she is thankful for the technology, she said.
"It is very reassuring," she said. "A lot of times when you don't have that phone and you try to talk to somebody in a different language you don't always get across what you want. There used to be a delay between giving that information to them (the patient) and then there's all this anxiety. Now that is taken away, and it's real time communication and that makes a big difference."
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, hospitals are required to provide equal access to all patients, regardless of gender, age and native language.
This requires all hospitals to provide adequate translation for patients, and that's where CyraCom comes in, Greenbaum said.
"You get well faster, better service and don't return to emergency rooms with strange problems if you know what the heck the doctors are telling you," Greenbaum said.
The medical facility is required to absorb the cost of the translation device.
The average call lasts about 10 minutes and costs the hospital about $20.
To commemorate CyraCom's 10th anniversary, phones were donated to the Ronald McDonald House, 2230 E. Speedway Blvd. It is the first Ronald McDonald House in the country to receive the technology.
"(The) service is such a benefit for our guests," said Diana Sheldon, executive director for the house, in a press release.
More than 500 families from Arizona and other states stay at the Ronald McDonald House each year. She estimates more than 25 percent will benefit from the translation service.
"With the stress of having a child in a hospital and being away from home, (it) will make talking with our staff so easy," she said.
With no cost to the House, Greenbaum is confident it will be a beneficial service.
"I think it will help them," he said.