Learning from the Past. Although the current US administration has greatly curtailed the country’s refugee resettlement program in recent years, historically, the United States has resettled more refugees than any other nation.
Guymon, Oklahoma is one such refugee settlement town. With a total population of 12,000, an astonishing 37 languages are spoken here — and in a town that is prone to its own share of natural disasters from scorching heat, to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and blizzards, these added languages pose a significant communication challenge for the local governments as well as for the educational and healthcare sectors.
In fact, in 2018 several students came close to frostbite exposure waiting for a bus, unaware that schools had been cancelled due to the extreme temperature.
In advance of any imminent crisis, this town’s emergency preparedness protocols are quite similar to those practiced by a great many small to mid-sized refugee resettlement communities.
Although announcements are generally communicated over the radio and within school settings and churches, these efforts cannot possibly begin to address the linguistic and cultural needs of the nation’s 25 million limited-English proficient (LEP) population.
Learning from the Present
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of doctors’ offices have had to close their doors, laying off staff and opting instead to offer well patients virtual medical appointments. Many hospitals across the nation have similarly limited onsite care to only those who truly require medical treatment.
The sudden onset and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus also brought onsite interpreting to a quick halt. And, “as the pandemic has disproportionately affected minority communities that require interpretation”2, a sudden shortage in healthcare interpreting services can mean the difference between life and death.
Several US-based studies have shown that LEP patients are at a higher risk for adverse events than are their English-speaking counterparts. In one particular seven-month study, 1,083 adverse-incident reports from six US-based hospitals were analyzed comparing physical harm experienced by both English-speaking and LEP patients, and the results were alarming.
Nearly half of LEP patients in the study experienced physical harm versus 29.5 percent of the study’s English-speaking patients. In fact, “[o]f those adverse events resulting in physical harm, 46.8% of the LEP patient adverse events had a level of harm ranging from moderate temporary harm to death, compared with 24.4% of English speaking patient adverse events.”2
Applying Intelligence for Future Success
Predicting the future after an emergency is risky business. Will the lingering fears mean less travel, fewer big sporting events, smaller social gatherings, and therefore, an increase in business closings?
There are so many possible scenarios that could play out that it is almost impossible to know what indirect effects the pandemic could have. Probably only one statement can be made with almost certainty. Companies that adapt quickly to change will find ways to survive and maybe even thrive — Akorbi is one such company. Akorbi has always been proactive, flexible and creative. It’s baked into the company DNA.
Akorbi’s Unwavering Multifaceted Language Solutions
Akorbi’s navigation of the COVID-19 crisis is emblematic of a corporate philosophy emphasizing not just communication but compassion. It is difficult to single out two better qualities that past, present, and inevitably future crises require. Akorbi continues to make every effort to adapt calmly and efficiently to realities that shift by the minute, including the ramping up of remote medical interpreting services, increasing our staffing and BPO services, and extending our multilingual content moderation service offerings.
Never before has the majority of the world’s population shared so many urgent questions all at the same time. Citizens in every country wonder how to keep their loved ones safe, hospitals require immediate solutions to address their overwhelmed facilities, and businesses worldwide struggle to stay afloat. Not only do these questions require immediate and accurate answers, but those answers need to be communicated into multiple languages — and that speaks directly to Akorbi’s core strength.
We facilitate clear, effective, accurate multilingual communication. From the onset of the current pandemic, our crisis management policies have allowed us to offer uninterrupted service continuity. We know you’re fearful of the future, but the worst thing you could do now is to simply stop. Reach out to Akorbi today and let’s get you back in the game.
Created in partnership with GIM Writing Services.
2 Divi, Chandrika, et al. “Language Proficiency and Adverse Events in US Hospitals: a Pilot Study.” International Journal for Quality in Health Care : Journal of the International Society for Quality in Health Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2007