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Push for bilingual medical cards gains support

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Push for bilingual medical cards gains support

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

Yuk Pang Law's aspiration of putting bilingual medical emergency cards in the wallets and on the refrigerators of every non-English-speaking immigrant in Hawai'i is getting some hefty support.

Last week, the nonprofit Catholic Charities Hawai'i accepted a $10,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to take the lead in producing the pocket-sized cards. And the state Department of Health has agreed to print at least a major portion of the cards at its in-house print shop.

Not bad for a project that Law, who owns Hawaii Immigrant Services, started with a couple thousand dollars of her own hoping to save the lives of elderly and poor Chinese immigrants.

"I really think it helps people who don't speak English," Law said. "And even if you are English-speaking, you can't talk when you're sick or you pass out."

Over the past decade or so, Law has distributed about 2,000 cards to non-English-speaking Chinese immigrants. Each card contains vital information about its carrier, including names and telephone numbers of primary physicians and emergency contact people, blood type, health insurance, medical conditions and medications.

Sister Earnest Chung, social policy director for Catholic Charities, maintains that the need for the card is great. She points to U.S. Census Bureau data from 1990 showing 26.6 percent of Hawai'i residents 5 years and older identifying themselves as speaking a second language, half of whom believed they speak English "less than very well."

"I'm hoping ... we can put it on the Web and people can download it and use it for their communities," Chung said.

She has identified at least 14 languages that she wants represented on the translation cards: Tagalog, Ilocano, Korean, Japanese, Samoan, Tongan, Chuukese, Marshallese, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Chinese, Cebuano and Thai. She plans to begin by making 800 cards in each of the languages.

The grant money may cover costs tied to translator services and typesetting, Chung said, noting that Catholic Charities hopes to get at least some translation done by volunteers.

Law and Chung contend that to ensure translations are properly done, cards should be translated into the respective foreign languages by one source, and then translated back into English by another. That might require additional time and expense, Law said, but will ensure there are no embarrassing, or possibly critical, mistakes.

Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said at least a major portion of the cards may be printed "very inexpensively" at the department's print shop.

"DOH sees this as a project that can definitely improve language access, and we will do what we can to move this forward," Okubo said.

Dr. Jonas Navickas, an osteopathic physician who works part time at the Kokua Kalihi Valley Health Clinic, estimates that nearly half of his patients are hampered by some degree of a language barrier.

A readily available list of allergies, ailments and medications would help save critical time and money in diagnosing a patient, he said. The situation for someone showing up in a hospital emergency room with a medical emergency card, as opposed to that for someone who came without one, "would be like day and night."

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-13th (Kalihi, Nu'uanu), chairwoman of the Senate Human Services Committee, said the push for the cards shows the need for more funding for interpretive services to help immigrant communities. "It's ironic because we are a state of immigrants," Chun Oakland said.

`Lifeline' radio KNDI turns 45

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

They run programs in the Filipino languages of Ilocano, Tagalog and Visayan more than half the time. But then there's the Marshallese show Wednesday nights and the Hispanic program Sunday afternoons, the Tongan show late Friday and Saturday nights and a Vietnamese program on Monday evenings.

In all, radio station KNDI 1270 AM carries programs in at least 11 foreign languages during the week.

The humble radio station that operates out of an old-style wooden house in McCully and is run by a Hungarian refugee celebrates its 45th anniversary with a banquet and dance Friday night.

Advocates for immigrants praise the station for being an essential link for people with limited English and the rest of Hawai'i.

Amy Agbayani, director of the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity at the University of Hawai'i at M

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More relate news:

Bills seek to break language barrier

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

People in Hawai'i who don't speak English run into persistent roadblocks when they deal with government agencies, according to immigrant rights advocate Patricia McManaman.

After reporting abuse by her boyfriend, a woman who speaks no English is instead placed in a psychiatric ward and her child is put in protective custody. A man with limited English skills has a difficult time explaining his symptoms to paramedics at the scene of a traffic accident. A woman applying for welfare is turned away and told to come back with her own interpreter. A man who knows no English is ordered by a judge to attend a driver's education class

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