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Disaster preparedness for limited English proficient communities: medical interpreters as cultural brokers and gatekeepers.

Department of Health Services, Box 357660, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7660, USA.
Public Health Reports (Impact Factor: 1.64). 122(4):466-71.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Current disaster and emergency response planning does not adequately address the needs of limited English proficient (LEP) communities. The complexities of language and cultural differences pose serious barriers to first responders and emergency providers in reaching LEP communities. Medical interpreters are potential key cultural and linguistic linkages to LEP communities. This project established a collaborative partnership with the Interpreter Services department of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. In summer 2004, a pilot assessment of the training background and work experiences of medical interpreters was conducted that focused on training needs for disaster/emergency situations. Overall, medical interpreters identified a need for disaster preparedness training and education. Medical interpreters further reported that LEP communities are not prepared for disasters and that there is a need for culturally appropriate information and education.

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