The Stronger Together series highlights how the Language Program Manager can partner with colleagues in other professional roles to make language support happen. Each piece will focus on partnering with a different group within a Health Care Organization like the IT and Telecom department, the Chaplains, and the Patient Educators.
The Forum of Coordinators of Interpreter Services (FOCIS), a state recognized group, developed in 2003 as an initiative of Carla Fogaren from Steward Health Care System, former Caritas Cristi Health Care, to connect different Massachusetts hospitals and provide a venue for Coordinators of Interpreter Services to discuss daily operational issues related to running an interpreter service program.
It gives managers an opportunity to learn what other hospitals are doing in terms of language services, what kind of support and resources other hospitals have, discuss new or current State and Federal regulations, as well as learn from each other as we implement changes to our departments.
It has allowed those who coordinate medical interpreter programs throughout the state to create standards and efficiencies for our departments and to work closely with some of the state agencies that may have an impact on our work, such as MHA, DPH, MCDHH (Mass Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). Periodically we invite representatives from all of these agencies to present at our meetings.
One of the first projects for FOCIS was to develop a Basic Standardized Interpreter Assessment. This assessment had statewide acceptance, as the test evaluates medical terminology, ethics and practices. It still continues to be a great tool and is still accepted as a basic test for entry level interpreters.
FOCIS members are currently cooperating with DPH in the reviewing, editing, and updating of the Best Practice Recommendations for Hospital-Based Interpreter Services document that was issued by the state many years ago. A lot of changes, including technology and regulations for language services, deemed this document obsolete.