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Melinda Paras & Found in Translation to be Honored as 2022 NCIHC Language Access Champion
A strong advocate for healthcare access and language justice in public and safety-net health systems, Melinda Paras has served as Director of Communications, Policy and Planning for the Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC), and as Executive Director of Health Access California, a health policy and advocacy organization. She is a former President of the ACMC Board of Trustees and a former San Francisco Health Commissioner.
While at Health Access California, Melinda was awarded a grant to pilot videoconferencing technology to enable trained interpreters to provide language assistance services remotely to Bay Area hospitals. Melinda led the creation of the world's first integrated Video/Voice Over IP call center for the sharing of healthcare interpreter services among California public hospitals – the Health Care Interpreter Network (HCIN).
Because of Melinda's vision and efforts to expand HCIN, hundreds of staff interpreter positions have been created and sustained in public and safety-net hospitals nationwide.
Melinda retired in 2019 after selling Paras and Associates to its employees, and will continue in her role as Board President through 2022.
Found in Translation is an award-winning Dorchester-based nonprofit with a two-fold mission: To give low-income bilingual women an opportunity to achieve economic security through the use of their language skills, and to reduce racial, ethnic, and linguistic disparities in health care by unleashing bilingual talent into the workforce.
Found in Translation's Language Access Fellowship Medical Interpreter Certificate Training and Job Placement program is designed to level the playing field for talented, driven low-income and homeless bilingual women.
In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, students are provided with: childcare supports, including on-site childcare during training; transportation assistance; resources for tech literacy, equipment, and access to the internet; mentoring + professional development opportunities and other job seeking needs tailored to the interpreting industry; financial literacy education
Since 2011, Found in Translation has trained 291 women as medical interpreters in 37 different languages, making health care more accessible to many thousands of immigrants and their families every year.
Both Melinda and Maria Vertkin, representing Found in Translation, will be introduced by Rosanna Balistreri, NCIHC President, on the second day of the Virtual Annual Membership Meeting on April 30, 2022.