UWEC students helping local clinic reach Spanish-speaking patients – WEAU

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – The Chippewa Valley Free Clinic is getting help reaching some of its patients who aren’t fluent in English. The clinic is teaming with two UW-Eau Claire students to help translate its patient handbook into Spanish.

“Within the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic and teaching the Spanish for Health Professions course this past fall, I knew I wanted to give my students an opportunity to interact with our local communities and do something meaningful in our present moment,” said UWEC assistant professor of languages, Latin American and Latinx studies Elena Casey.

Casey then reached out to the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic to see it it needed help. After learning about the patient handbook, two of her students, Erin Fitzgerald and Breida Torres volunteered to help. They turned it into a class project.

“We do it at home on our computers and basically we have an original copy of this document that’s in English and we need to translate it to Spanish,” Torres said.

The project, which has taken several months, is not simply changing the document word for word.

“The thing about this was that looking at the English translation and then trying to put it in Spanish translation, it’s not one correct way,” Fitzgerald said. “So for me as a native English speaker there’s a lot of different words that could mean the same thing in English but is different for a native Spanish speaker.”

For Torres and Fitzgerald, they get the benefit of helping others while gaining valuable experience since both want to go into the medical field.

“This also helps me kind of have an understanding of another community that also needs healthcare,” Fitzgerald said.

Torres said the project helped her expand her vocabulary.

“I think I will be really able to apply what I learned,” she said.

Casey said Torres and Fitzgerald expect to finalize the translated patient handbook in the coming weeks.

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