The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) presented Mary Rynerson, Mara Youdelman, and EthnoMed with the NCIHC Language Access Champion Awards for 2011 on May 19, 2011 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, LA.

From PRLog Press Release, April 4, 2011:


National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) honored Mary Rynerson, Mara Youdelman, and EthnoMed with the NCIHC Language Access Champion Awards for 2011. 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.  NCIHC presented the awards at the “Interpretini Reception” on May 19, 2011, from 6:00-8:30pm at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The reception was part of the 5th Annual Membership Meeting ( NCIHC is a multidisciplinary organization whose mission is to promote and enhance language access in health care in the United States.

NCIHC Board with 2011 Language Access Champions
NCIHC Board with 2011 Language Access Champions. Photo by: Rosa Villalobos

Mary Rynerson has been instrumental in the growth of the health care interpreting profession. In 1992 Mary founded Pacific Interpreters (now LanguageLine Solutions) to provide face-to-face interpreting in Oregon and Washington. A year later, the company added over-the-phone service.  Today, Pacific Interpreters provides medical interpreters to some 15,000 callers each day: doctors, nurses, social workers and technicians from a customer list of over 1700 healthcare systems, medical centers, public health agencies, medical practices, diagnostic centers and other healthcare businesses across the USA and Canada.  From a single employee in 1992 Pacific Interpreters has grown to an operating staff of nearly 150 full time employees and a corps of some 1600 highly skilled, qualified and experienced medical interpreters all across the country.

Mara Youdelman is a Managing Attorney for the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).  In her 10 years at NHeLP, she has been an ardent advocate and leading expert on language access issues.  Since 2005, she has been leading a diverse coalition of health care providers and advocates for LEP communities who work to improve federal policies and funding for language access through the Office for Civil Rights, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other agencies.  Her most recent accomplishment has been as chair of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).  Her leadership with the CCHI has rapidly elevated a national, valid, credible, and vendor-neutral certification program for healthcare interpreters.  Youdelman has a strong commitment to ensuring equal access to healthcare for the LEP population. Her knowledge of cultural and linguistic issues, supporting worthwhile projects and collaborating with many programs and organizations has without question improved the lives of many in the field.  

EthnoMed is an ethnic medicine website containing medical and cultural information about immigrant and refugee groups.  Since 1994, the website has made information about culture, language, health, illness and community resources directly accessible to health care providers who see patients from different ethnic groups. EthnoMed is a joint program of the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries and Harborview Medical Center’s Interpreter Services Department/Community House Calls Program.  EthnoMed supports language access in several ways.  They publish patient education print and video materials in ten languages (Amharic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, Vietnamese).  Interpreters use their knowledge of culture to vet articles for accuracy in their representation of cultural beliefs and traditions.  Finally, EthnoMed publishes a calendar for events and holidays for the over 80 language groups that come to Harborview for medical care.

“One of our core values at Harborview is to help patients with limited English proficiency overcome linguistic and cultural barriers to healthcare. Through Interpreter Services, we provide language and communication support in more than 80 languages and dialects. Since 1994, we have also met the needs of immigrant communities with two special programs: Community House Calls, for caseworker cultural mediation, and EthnoMed, a website created in collaboration with the UW Health Sciences Library. The Language Access Champion award is a special honor coming from the leading national organization for medical interpreters. It is also a tribute to our dedicated staff, providers, community partners, and longstanding commitment to provide equitable access to medical services to all people, regardless of language or culture.”

– Harborview Executive Director, Eileen Whalen, April 13, 2011