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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Language Access
Type: Pubs & Reports

Now We're Talking: A Study on Language Assistance Services at Ten New York City Public and Private Hospitals

The Equitable and Effective
Government Initiative
(EEGI) is a partnership between Make the Road New
York  (MTRNY)and the New York Immigration
Coalition (NYIC) to assess the implementation of a recent language assistance
law at local public and private hospitals through hospital monitoring and
surveys among limited-English-proficient (LEP) patients.  Findings from this study indicate that there
is significant progress across both public and private hospitals in New York City as a result
of advocacy that led to the enactment of the new state language assistance law
in 2006. 

Effective September 2006, a new
State regulation requires hospitals to notify
patients of the availability of free language assistance services, and to
provide interpretation services to all limited-English-proficient patients in a
timely manner.  This law provides
standards that hospitals must meet in order to ensure that patients have
meaningful access to services by reducing communication barriers, and thereby
reducing the incidence of medical harm. 
The findings from EEGI indicate that these standards are guiding
hospitals in the right direction, with room for improvement in equitable access
to health care for all New Yorkers regardless of the languages that they

In order to systematically measure compliance with
recently enacted state laws, EEGI developed a patient survey instrument and a
hospital walk-through guide for health advocates at MTRNY and KCS  to assess communication assistance services
available for language minorities.  MTRNY
conducted surveys in Spanish at ten different hospitals throughout the summer
and fall of 2007.  Community members and
staff also conducted a walk-through study in which they assessed public notice
and assistance for LEP patients entering and navigating the halls and waiting
areas of the hospital and some of its clinics. 
In order to draw a comparison between language groups, Korean Community
Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS) participated in EEGI by conducting
surveys and a walk-through study with Korean-speaking clients at two of the
same hospitals included in MTRNY’s sample in the fall 2007 and winter of