New Language Guides Reduce Barriers

When a patient, visitor or member steps into a Samaritan
facility, language should not be a barrier.

With new, improved and streamlined interpretation guides,
that’s now true across Samaritan, whether a person is
checking in for a doctor’s appointment, joining a SamFit gym,
purchasing health insurance or staying as a guest at the Mario
Pastega House

“We’re not just providing better access,” said Laurie Simpson,
director of Patient Experience & Engagement at Samaritan.
“We’re improving outcomes and building trust, which is what
the community deserves.”

According to U.S. Census data, for about 20% of the population,
a language other than English is spoken at home. In Oregon,
the most common foreign languages include Spanish, Russian,
Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and Vietnamese.

Improving language access for people whose preferred
language is not English is part of Samaritan’s Equity &
Inclusion Plan
to foster an inclusive, respectful, equitable and
responsive health system.

Guided by Samaritan’s Equity & Inclusion Council, the
plan outlines goals and steps to understand and
address issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, culture,
socioeconomic status, language, sexual orientation, age,
spirituality and literacy.

“We’re not just providing better language access,” Simpson
said. “We’re improving safety and quality, which will allow our
patients to become more engaged, which reduces errors.”

Samaritan’s Patient & Family Advisory Councils provided
feedback and guidance when developing the new language
and interpretation guides, said Janessa Thom, Samaritan’s
Patient‑Family Engagement Coordinator.

Advisory councils are made up of community members who
meet regularly to enhance customer service, improve patient
satisfaction, provide feedback for health care providers and
promote understanding between the health system and the
community. Advisory council members saw an opportunity to
make interpreting services more consistent and thorough.

All Samaritan registration staff are equipped with a
guide outlining different languages for people to request
interpretation services quickly and easily by simply pointing
to their preferred language. People will receive a card to carry
that identifies their preferred language that they can take to
appointments to signal they need interpreting services.

“In the past, interpretation experiences varied by location,”
Thom said. “Now, every Samaritan facility uses the same
guide to identify and greet people who speak a language
other than English.”

Samaritan’s nine Patient & Family Advisory Councils are
actively recruiting people to serve as patient advisors.
To apply for a position, contact the Service Excellence
Team at [email protected]. To learn
more about Samaritan’s Equity & Inclusion plan, visit

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