Tuesday, August 2, 2016
This summer, two men were returning from a concert in Connecticut to their home outside of Sherbrook, Quebec, when the driver fell asleep and the car left the highway. It was around 2am, and fortunately, someone was behind them and called EMS. According to the ambulance crew, they were very lucky to be alive.
They were brought to NVRH Emergency Department, but didn’t speak English. The translation line was called. However, the translator had difficulty understanding and speaking their dialect. Within Canada, there are many dialects – people living within 4 hours of each other speak a different enough dialect that they don’t understand each other.
Yvette St. Hilaire, BSN-RN, BC in the Intensive Care Unit was called to interpret. Yvette grew up in a French Canadian household in Holland, VT; French was her first language and she’d never uttered a word of English until she attended first grade.
Having started her shift at 3pm the day before, she was due to leave at 3am, but was asked by ED staff to help communicate and she immediately went down to the ER. For the next 3 ½ hours, she translated for the two patients, both of whom were seriously injured but stabilized; Dr. Sexton was sending them to DHMC for further treatment. Yvette’s role included translation, reassurance and continued explanations. Both patients were very concerned that their Canadian insurance wouldn’t cover expenses, so they were pushing to return to Canada. Yvette carefully explained that time was of the essence, and that DHMC was the closest, most appropriate receiving facility to treat their critical conditions.
Georgette Griffin arrived for her shift in Environmental Services at 6:30am and traded places with Yvette. She also grew up in a French Canadian household, where they were only allowed to speak French. Georgette helped in the ED for about an hour, so that Yvette could get some sleep before she was due to return to the ICU later that day.
Both Yvette and Georgette were very pleased to assist the patients and the Emergency Department team. They felt good about filling such an important role.
Dr. Sexton was very grateful for Yvette and Georgette’s help. “Their assistance significantly improved the patients’ experience and contributed to the efficient critical care we provided in the ED. It was a real team effort and Yvette and Georgette’s sensitivity, compassion and dedication were extraordinary.”