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Avera Medical Minute-Interpreter COVID-19 services

Weiyni Derso offered interpreter services in two Ethiopian languages
Weiyni Derso offered interpreter services in two Ethiopian languages(KSFY)
Published: May. 15, 2020 at 8:40 PM CDT
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When a COVID-19 testing event was facilitated by Avera Health recently in Sioux Falls, interpreters were arranged for many languages.

One of those interpreters was Weiyni Derso, an SDSU grad, who had interned at Lutheran Social Services and was asked to join their staff.

"I will come back, happy to help. Because I'm gonna tell social services did a lot for us and for me and my family when we first came," said Derso.

Weini's day of interpreting for two Ethiopian languages at the COVID testing location was unlike any other.

"Yeah, it broke my heart," said Derso.

She could see the fear in the eyes of those lined up for testing.

"I would describe them really scared and like they were most of the people that are panicking and confused for the most part," said Derso.

But her care and information was there at just the right time.

"I would tell them hi in my language, and they would feel really relieved and they would ask me all these questions, they had bottled up inside them. I'm really thankful for that and I was really happy to be working alongside with Avera," said Derso.

That same level of care and information is available in many languages through Avera's COVID-19 hotline, which was set up very early during the pandemic according to Julie Ward.

"And we just thought it was really important that there was a number for patients to call for information and to get screened. And depending on where they fit in that criteria, we'll send them for testing. If they don't meet testing guidelines then we offer them additional care information on how to treat their symptoms at home, you know, still to stay isolated and then if their symptoms begin to get worse to give us a call back," said Ward.

Avera also offers a virtual visit with a care provider.

"I would say a lot of patients do take us up on that I think there's a comfort level in talking with the provider even if they can't get tested but they've got symptoms," said Ward.

Interpreters are available in 200 languages, some of those right here in South Dakota, like Weiyni.

"And you know when you use local interpreters there's just a level of trust between the interpreters and their communities. And they were just invaluable," said Ward.

Information can also be e-mailed in over ten languages.

"We just really want patients to feel like they've got a place to go in uncertain times," Ward said.

The nurses answering calls at the Avera COVID-19 hotline and their interpreters are available 24/7 at 877-AT-AVERA.

"I know the struggle I know what they're going through and just being able to help with that just makes my heart happy," said Derso.

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