Boston Medical Center: A Legacy of Language Services

Learn how the largest safety-net hospital in New England provides language services to the 31% of its patients who do not speak English as a primary language.

Boston Medical Center (BMC) is a 487-bed academic medical center located in Boston’s historic South End and dedicated to providing “consistently excellent and accessible health services to all in need of care regardless of status or ability to pay – exceptional care, without exception.”

"We take care of patients even if they don’t have insurance,” explained Elida Acuna- Martinez, BMC’s Director of Interpreter Services. “We partner with 14 community health centers, and our MassHealth plan, BMC HealthNet, is the largest in the state.”

BMC is the largest safety net hospital and the busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England . Underserved populations comprise 59% of BMC’s patients, and 31% do not speak English as their primary language.

“Spanish is our most commonly-requested language – more than half of our interpreter encounters,” Acuna-Martinez said. “After that, Haitian Creole and Cape Verdean represent 14% and 6%, respectively. We serve one of the largest refugee populations in the Boston area.”

“We cover 15 languages using a pool of 65 hospital staff interpreters,” Acuna-Martinez explained. “We provide interpretation for close to 300,000 patients per year, with probably twice that many interactions.”

Boston Medical aims to provide their LEP population with the same care as English-speaking patients, and that means partnering with an outside language services provider. On-site interpreters handle about 25% of non-English-speaking patient encounters, while the remaining 75% use phone and video interpretation provided by CyraCom.

“We care about every single patient,” Acuna-Martinez said. “That’s why we partner with CyraCom - we have the same goals.”

Download the case study to learn more about how Cyracom helps Boston Medical Center provide care to its patients with limited English proficiency.