Northwestern Medicine Interpretation Services

Interpretation Services

Northwestern Medicine Interpretation Services

You have a right to receive care in a language that you understand. If your preferred language is not English, you will have access to a trained, qualified medical interpreter at no cost.

All interpreters hired at Northwestern Medicine are certified, qualified and trained in accordance with state and federal requirements. We consider your interpreter to be an essential part of your care team.

The Interpretation Services team provides patients and families equitable access to care using qualified medical interpreters and communication accommodations. We collaborate with your care teams, family and caregivers with the goal of achieving positive health outcomes and the best patient experience.

Certified and qualified medical interpreters improve patient safety and satisfaction by:

  • Being proficient in medical terminology in the language(s) they support
  • Interpreting everything being said
  • Watching for body language or facial expressions that might indicate confusion or distress
  • Working as patient advocates to ensure any questions or concerns are addressed

The Interpretation Services Department is proud to support you with a combination of services, based on your location. These may include face-to-face interpreters, video remote interpreting or interpretation over the telephone.

At certain locations, Spanish-speaking interpreters who are on staff at Northwestern Medicine are available for inpatient, outpatient and surgical interpreting.

We also partner with professional interpreter agencies to help with face-to-face language interpretation as needed. This includes American Sign Language (ASL) for patients who are hard of hearing and Tactile ASL to serve patients who are hard of hearing and visually impaired.

Video remote interpreting (VRI) offers remote access to an interpreter via an iPad. VRI is available in the following languages:

  • ASL
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Bengali
  • Bosnian
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian
  • Cantonese
  • CDI/ASL
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French
  • Gujarati
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Japanese
  • Karen
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Nepali
  • Pashto
  • Persian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Portuguese (Portugal)
  • Punjabi
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Tigrinya
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

Interpretation over the telephone is a useful medium that you can access quickly. This accessible option helps ensure patients and families have a full understanding of the plan of care. For more detailed conversations or to schedule appointments in advance, the care teams can work with Interpretation Services to set up a face-to-face interpreter or VRI.