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Friday, April 24, 2009
Bridging the translation gap: From left, Warshaw congratulates Rowell and Noga.
Nathaniel Bowditch, a self-taught, 19th century celestial navigator, helped raise support for the construction of MGH in the 1800’s. On April 16, Andrew Warshaw, MD, chairman of the Bowditch Prize Committee and chief of the MGH Department of Surgery, presented two of the hospital’s own current-day navigators a special prize named in Bowditch’s honor.
Patricia Rowell, director of Volunteer, Interpreter, Information Ambassador and General Store Services, and Jim Noga, chief information officer, were presented the 2009 Nathaniel Bowditch Prize for creating a video medical interpreter (VMI) service to help patients who don’t speak English better communicate with their caregivers.
The service, which was tested in Spanish at the MGH Medical Walk-In Unit, eliminates the wait for an onsite interpreter.
“As providers encounter patients who don’t speak English, VMI allows them to quickly deliver care with the same fluidity as they do for patients who speak the language,” Rowell says.
The success of the Spanish version of VMI will eventually lead to its use in other languages. Noga said he could see the service expanding Partnerswide over the next several years.
The Bowditch Prize was established in 2000, when the MGH Board of Trustees received a grant for an annual prize recognizing efforts to improve patient care while reducing costs. Those considered for the award are nominated by their peers. The top idea is selected by a committee, and the winners receive a $5,000 cash prize.
“This year, as with all the others, it was a difficult decision,” says Warshaw. “The work was just so terrific.”
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