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Bay Area Hospital Speech Interpreters Aided by Video- Conferencing

by Michael Johns, Project Manager | July 21, 2006

Alameda first began using the VMI technology in 2003 to help with 125,000 annual translation sessions, while San Francisco General began using it in 2005. Only in the past few weeks have trials been under way to transmit between facilities of the two hospitals, about 50 miles apart, which will take further advantage of the available pool of interpreters, said Bruce Occena, a project consultant at Health Access Foundation in Oakland. "The initial findings are encouraging," Occena said. "The technology part is almost seamless."

Occena and Chin said the VMI project would not have been possible a few years ago, when videoconferencing and networking product costs were much higher. But because of initial success, Chin believes hospitals could join together in a linked videoconferencing network for interpretation services and other needs.

"This will be a model to show the rest of the nation that interpretation is affordable and can be replicated elsewhere and that there could be a linked network," Chin said.

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