Language Access Champions Honored at 4th Annual NCIHC Membership Meeting

The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) announces the recipients of the 2010 Language Access Champion Awards.
April 2, 2010 - PRLog -- The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) is pleased to honor Ignatius Bau, Estela McDonough, and Kaiser Permanente-Northern California with the NCIHC Language Access Champion Award for 2010.  The purpose of this award is to honor a person, program, or organization whose work has contributed to improving the lives of all people through the promotion of language access in healthcare.  The NCIHC Language Access Champion award is a recognition that comes directly from the NCIHC general membership. In this sense, it is an honor that is bestowed from peer to peer. This year’s honorees have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and contribution to language access to ensure that persons who are members of linguistically diverse groups receive health care which embodies the principles of respect, dignity and choice.


Ignatius Bau has been a language access champion in health care not just for the NCIHC, but for all organizations who share this mission.  Long before cultural and linguistic competence became commonplace terms, Ignatius understood their critical role in the elimination of disparities in health care.  His support of the NCIHC, a fledgling organization at the time, was key to its establishment and in bringing its mission to national attention.  His vision was critical at a time when the field of healthcare interpreting was radically different and, in many ways, could barely be considered a “field.”  
According to Joy Connell, NCIHC Board Co-Chair, “Ignatius has served as a warrior-advocate for social justice and health throughout his career, and as a very strategic and disciplined grant maker at TCE, he added new tools to his arsenal in fighting for justice on behalf of underserved groups. I can attest that few at TCE have ever consistently worked harder than Iggy.”

Estela McDonough is the Coordinator of Interpreter Services at  UMass Memorial Medical Center and professor at the Boston University’s Certificate Program for Medical Interpreters, one the most recognized and respected medical interpreting education programs in the country.  McDonough, who is a past recipient of the Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association’s (MMIA, now the IMIA) Raquel Cashman Award for Language Access, has been working on language access issues for close to 30 years.  The NCIHC Language Access Champion award recognizes her pioneering vision and efforts that paved the way for others to follow.

In the nomination, McDonough was described as  “always [going] above and beyond making sure patients and providers communicate in the most effective way to guarantee patients receive healthcare in the way they deserve. She also shares her passion with her students, so that the new generation of interpreters embodies the principles of dignity and respect.”

Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region serves over 300,000 members who prefer to receive their health care services in more than 60 different languages.  Over the years, this organization has been a quiet champion of language services – focusing on internal innovation to implement creative and efficient solutions to ensure that all patients, regardless of language preference, receive the highest quality of care possible.  The organization was one of the first to hire professional healthcare interpreters as dedicated staff in its medical centers.  Today, there are over 60 individuals on staff throughout the region, providing dedicated interpreter services.  In addition, Kaiser Permanente recognizes the need to train and assess bilingual employees before they take on the role of an interpreter.  Today, there are over 500 nurses and 3,500 other employees qualified to provide service in eight different languages across the region.
Kaiser Permanente has been a leader in innovation to advance language access.  Three of its centers have implemented remote video interpreting to ensure equal access to Sign Language and spoken language services.  Finally, Kaiser Permanente has a long history of sharing their learning and championing language access issues at state and national forums, benefitting NCIHC members and the people they serve.  


The awards will be presented at a reception on Thursday, April 29, 2010 from 6:00-8:30pm at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  The reception is part of the 4th Annual NCIHC Membership Meeting.  NCIHC is a multidisciplinary organization based in the United States whose mission is to promote culturally competent professional health care interpreting as a means to support equal access to health care for individuals with limited English proficiency.  The NCIHC Membership Meeting is the annual gathering of Council board, committees and general members for a day and a half of focused dialogue, exchange and consensus-building. This year’s meeting will include updates on training standards, certification and Joint Commission hospital accreditation standards to improve patient-provider communication. For more information about the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care and the 4th Annual NCIHC Membership Meeting visit

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About NCIHC: NCIHC is a multidisciplinary organization based in the United States whose mission is to promote culturally competent professional health care interpreting as a means to support equal access to health care for individuals with limited English proficiency.
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