Supporting our local refugee population: A story from 1 of our OB-GYN practices

Published: May 14, 2023

I recently heard a story about how our staff came together to provide care for a group of patients that were new to the United States and in need of some extra special attention that I thought it was worth sharing.

When one of our Stamford Health Medical Group’s OB-GYN practices experienced a relative influx of refugee patients who were expecting, the team knew they were going to have to think creatively to overcome communication challenges so that they could provide care in a way that treated each patient as a whole and unique person.

It is not always easy for our Medical Group practices to locate certain interpreters on short notice, so our team went above and beyond to coordinate care and allow for longer appointment times. First, they used a mobile device that was located in the exam room for interpreting, but as more women came – they knew they needed a better solution.

One of our practice managers, Suha Buckey, reached out to our patient relations team who acted quickly. Courtney Stupak, manager of volunteer and guest services, and Deborah Fedeli, director of patient centered services, worked to get the OB-GYN practice a specific Language Line device to support improved communication with the new patients.

Stamford Health has many of the Language Line devices at our hospital and larger practices throughout the region, but not every Stamford Health Medical Group Practice has the need for them. These devices are essentially an iPad encased in speakers on an IV pole – it is mobile and can go to any room that is needed. You simply search the desired language and an interpreter comes on like a FaceTime call. There are advanced privacy features and it is more user friendly for the physician and most importantly, for the patient.

The office staff was trained on how to use the device which has access to interpreters who speak a wide variety of languages and are available 24/7. This allowed the team to book appointments back-to-back so they could utilize the same interpreter for several appointments in a row and provide the most reliable service for their patients.

Jewish Family Services, the non-profit social services agency that works with the refugees, shared this note with us about how our team positively impacted their clients.

“Our clients were very happy with the care they received at Stamford Health. The Language Line device allowed them to have an interpreter present at the appointments, but still provide privacy for the patient,” said Valerie Boucard, a case manager at Jewish Family Services. “One particular client was also happy the OB-GYN practice could accommodate her wish to see a female doctor.”

I am tremendously proud of how our staff went above and beyond to meet the needs of these patients, and I know it was rewarding for the team, too. This special group of patients have had great outcomes, even with some challenging medical histories. I am thrilled that they have already welcomed several new American citizens into the world, with more on the way. I can’t imagine the stress these refugees must endure. Beyond just our duty, it is our privilege to make navigating a foreign health system easier in any way we can for these individuals.

As an independent, non-profit health system, community partnerships, like this one with Jewish Family Services, help us reach patients we might otherwise not, or who might struggle to access preventative care which leads to better outcomes. These partnerships create pathways for patients, who we can then serve because we invest in tools and resources that ensure our diverse and extraordinary staff are able to provide great care to everyone who walks through our doors.

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