UW Libraries e-news
June 2011 |  Return to issue home

EthnoMed Receives NCIHC Language Champion Award

Christine Wilson Owens, left, and Gem Daus
EthnoMed's Christine Wilson Owens accepts the NCIHC Language Access Champion Award from Gem Daus.

The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) in May honored EthnoMed with a Language Access Champion Award for 2011 at the group's fifth annual meeting in New Orleans.

The award recognizes a person, program, or organization whose work has contributed to improving the lives of all people through the promotion of language access in healthcare.

EthnoMed provides information about cultural beliefs, medical issues and other topics pertinent to the health care of people from many countries and cultures. Since 1994, the website has made information about culture, language, health, illness and community resources directly accessible to health care providers who see patients from different ethnic groups. The website reaches more than 320,000 visitors each year, comprising a local, national and international audience of health care providers, patients, educators and students.

EthnoMed is a joint program of the University of Washington Health Sciences Library and Harborview Medical Center's Interpreter Services Department. It grew out of another hospital program, Community House Calls, which bridges cultural and language barriers during medical visits through interpretation, cultural mediation and advocacy with immigrant patients, families and communities.

The EthnoMed team works with caseworker cultural mediators, medical interpreters, health care providers and ethnic community leaders who serve as authors and advisers of the web content.  Interpreters and community members use their knowledge of culture to vet articles for accuracy in their representation of cultural beliefs and traditions, and can contribute to a multicultural calendar of holidays.

EthnoMed also publishes patient education print and video materials in 10 languages (Amharic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, Vietnamese), and shares patient education content with the Refugee Health Information Network (RHIN), a national database.

"One of our core values at Harborview is to help patients with limited English proficiency overcome linguistic and cultural barriers to health care," says Eileen Whalen, Harborview Medical Center's executive director. "Through Interpreter Services, we provide language and communication support in more than 80 languages and dialects. Since 1994, we have also met the needs of immigrant communities with two special programs: Community House Calls, for caseworker cultural mediation, and EthnoMed, a website created in collaboration with the UW Health Sciences Library. The Language Access Champion award is a special honor coming from the leading national organization for medical interpreters. It is also a tribute to our dedicated staff, providers, community partners, and longstanding commitment to provide equitable access to medical services to all people, regardless of language or culture."

* Photo by Greg Figaro

June 2011  |  Return to issue home

University of Washington Libraries, Campus Box 352900, Seattle, WA 98195-2900
© 2008-2011 University of Washington  | Contact Us  | Privacy Policy