“Hola,” “Assaalmu Alaykum,” “Marhaba” Saying “Hello” at Nationwide Children’s has become so much more interesting!

You just learned how to say hello in Spanish (Hola), Somali (Assaalmu Alaykum) and Arabic (Marhaba). This could come in handy if you’re visiting Nationwide Children’s Hospital. These are the top three languages, following English, used by our hospital translators.

Translation is one of the fastest growing services we offer here.  Our 29 translators, specializing in multiple languages, provide nearly 250 translations every day, more than 90,000 during 2010.  This is more than double the number of translations we were providing just five years ago.

I love walking down the halls of the hospital and listening to all the different languages being spoken.  Columbus is becoming a wonderfully diverse community and we’re often a destination for many new international families with children.  Our translators are not just a comfort to families; they are an essential part of the medical team.

As you can imagine, bringing your child to the hospital can be frightening.  Ensuring accurate and complete communication is essential.  To put this in perspective – imagine you’re in Nepal (maybe taking your children to visit the famous llama’s perhaps??) and you’re child becomes ill.  Then imagine you have to go to the hospital where no-one understands you?  Translators are crucial.  To speak with you and understand your child’s health history while also informing you about the care taking place and any home-going instructions.

Our interpreters are special people.  Here’s a story from one of our own, Darsy Amaya:

“A mother was standing by the door of our Urgent Care entrance. She seemed lost so I asked her if she needed help. She followed by asking, in Spanish, “Is this Children’s Hospital?” I came from Argentina and they told me that here at Children’s Hospital they could help me with my son. She continues saying “I don’t know where to go, I don’t know what to do, they just told me to come to Children’s Hospital and here I am”.  This mother was standing by the door with her son lying in a stroller that sort of looked like a wheel chair but was not well equipped. Her son must have been ten or twelve years old at the time and there he was, next to his mother, stiff with no facial expression, no movement, no words he was laying on a stroller he had outgrown.

What touched me the most was that this mother came all the way from South America with the hope that Nationwide Children’s hospital would help her and her son.  Families and patients get their needs met regardless of their background, color, and language.

Thru the years Interpreters have assisted this mother and witness the miraculous improvement her son had made. He sits up, stand and walks with assistance and how this mother and many others families that come from all over the world get the support and assistance here at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. To this day I still hear the same phrase, “I came from Puerto Rico, I came from Mexico, I came from El Salvador”, I came from (you name the country) and everybody finishes their sentences with the same phase “because they told me that here at Children’s Hospital I will, and they fill in the blank with their story with the hope that their miracles will happen here at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”

Donna Teach
Donna Teach is Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Nationwide Children's. Her job is to help the hospital feel "connected" – Connected to each other, connected to our patients and their families, referring physicians, the community and the world.

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