Interpreting and Translation Services

We want to ensure that our culturally and linguistically diverse patients/families can communicate effectively with the medical staff and employees. We are one of the first hospitals in the nation to have instituted a formal Diversity Services Department with services that meet the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards (CLAS) of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. We are also the first to implement a professional career ladder for language professionals as published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Our Language and Cultural Specialists have a Bachelor's degree, Master's degree or Certificate of Completion from a formal Interpreter Training Program or extensive experience interpreting in health care and clinical settings. All are required to have fluency in English and a second language, and must pass an oral and written test in order to be hired. In addition, our specialists are nationally certified medical interpreters who have received special training to deliver interpreting services in a health care environment, as well as training in knowledge and interpretation of medical terminology. 

Language and Communication Services

  • Assistance with cross-cultural communication to ensure the delivery of health care services that are respectful and compatible with patients and families' cultural health beliefs
  • Interpreting Services, or the conversion of a spoken message from one language into another. These services have been provided in more than 34 languages through a combination of in-house staff and contracted telephonic and on-site interpreters.
  • Sign Language Interpreters or Assistive Listening Devices such as TTY or TTD for hearing impaired patients and families
  • Translation, or the conversion of written and critical materials such as informed consents, health education and discharge instructions into the target languages of the patients or families, or into Braille for patients/families with visual impairments.

Additional Language and Communication Resources

How to Request Language and Communication Services

Notify a hospital employee or medical staff that you need language assistance. The Diversity Department will be contacted to arrange the appropriate services. Contact information is located to the top right of this page.

24/7 Language and Communication Assistance

During especially busy times when the demand for interpreting services exceeds the levels that can be provided through our existing staff, we rely upon outside interpreters provided by contracted vendors who have been selected through a rigorous process.

Your Right to Language and Communication Assistance

All of our patients and families with limited English proficiency have the right to obtain an interpreter free of charge, and all patients and families with hearing or sight impairments have the right to receive adequate and appropriate assistance in order to communicate with physicians and health care providers.

  • Communication Assistance for Patients, Parents or Guardians (Policy ADM – 143.1 Communication Assistance)
  • Discrimination Is Against the Law

Purpose

This policy gives information about how Children’s Hospital Los Angeles helps patients and family members understand health care decisions and care instructions in their language of choice at no cost to patients and families.

Policy

The hospital provides the following services free-of-charge to patients and families:

  • In-person interpreters (face-to-face) in the following languages:
    • Spanish interpreters are available 24 hours a day.
    • Arabic, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin interpreters are typically available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on occasions where a staff member is away from work.
  • Phone interpreters (in over 200 languages) are available 24/7 for Spanish and many languages commonly spoken by our patients and their families.
  • American Sign Language (ASL) is available 24/7 via Video Remote interpreting. In person ASL interpreters are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but must be scheduled in advance.
    • TTY devices are available in designated areas.
  • Bilingual staff members may also be used if they are available at the time of a patient’s visit (these are employees that CHLA has reviewed and identified as being qualified to serve as interpreters).

Other Services Available

Limited translation services are available for documents that are critical for patient care. When a written translation is not available on the same day, it will be mailed later to the patient’s address. For languages that are very rare, a phone or video interpreter will be used instead to share the information verbally.

For patients and family members who are unable to speak, the hospital makes alternative augmentative communication devices available. These include communication boards or using symbols or pictures to communicate. Also, adaptive switches are used to help patients access the nurse call light or gain attention of caregivers at the bedside. This service is available Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

To Request Services

For clinic appointments, ask for an interpreter to be available when calling to confirm the appointment. For patients admitted to the hospital, language and communication needs are identified at the time of admission. Staff interpreters serving the inpatient units can arrange for services.

Important Information About Friends and Family Serving as Interpreters

The hospital does not ask patients, family members, friends or visitors to serve as interpreters. Even if the family chooses to use a friend or loved one to interpret for them, the staff and doctors may still use a resource listed above. Children cannot interpret for their families.

Patients and families may also call the diversity services department 323-361-2596, Monday to Friday or leave a message.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles complies with applicable federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender identity/expression or sex. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender identity/expression or sex.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides:

  • Free aids and services to people with disabilities to communicate effectively with us, such as:
    • Qualified sign language interpreters
    • Written information in other formats (American Sign Language)
  • Free language services to people whose primary language is not English,  such as:
    • Qualified interpreters
    • Information written in other languages

If you need these services, please contact Diversity Services at 323-361-2596.

If you believe that Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has failed to provide these services or discriminated in another way on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex, you can file a grievance with:

Department of Patient Relations and Service Excellence
4650 Sunset Blvd., #174
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone: 323-361-4682

If you need help filing a grievance, the Department of Patient Relations and Service Excellence is available to help you.

You can also file a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, electronically through the Office for Civil Rights Complaint Portal, available at U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Office for Civil Rights, or by mail or phone at:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave., SW
Room 509F, HHH Building Washington, D.C. 20201
1-800-368-1019, 800-537-7697 (TDD)

Complaint forms are available at Filing with OCR | HHS.gov