The Associated Press wire story you carried on Denver General Hospital (March 7, p. 60) was off the mark. Our facility is proud to serve a diverse population of patients, including 42% who are Hispanic.
Contrary to what the article conveyed, we applauded the students' initiative to correct a form written in Spanish. Effective communication with all our patients, regardless of the language they speak, is essential to meeting their medical needs.
While the form that the students critiqued wasn't an official publication of DGH and has been corrected, it was a good-faith effort-albeit less than perfectly executed-by a Hispanic staff to improve communications with Spanish-speaking patients. The fact that the students' corrections also contained errors underscores the difficulty of translating English documents into Spanish. Anyone who has tried to translate medical jargon into a language "English-speaking" patients can understand will appreciate how difficult it is to get it right in another language.
Communicating with non-English speaking patients is just one of the challenges for which private providers should be ready if healthcare reforms succeed in giving more access to their system for such patients.
C. L. HARMER
Director, Office of Public Affairs
Department of Health and Hospitals