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Sarah Kramer's Work

In order to serve its increasingly multi-lingual population, New York State requires interpretation services in all hospitals. But when caring for immigrants, the language barrier is just one of a myriad of issues health providers grapple with. Even though there is no statewide mandate for cultural sensitivity, many doctors say it's become a necessary instrument in providing medical care for the city's immigrant population.

One out of four New Yorkers doesn't speak or understand complex sentences in English. But at some point in their lives, every one of them will need to see a doctor. Language barriers can result in misdiagnoses, medication errors, and potentially fatal mistakes that are costly for both patients and providers. For this reason, hospitals in New York are required to provide "meaningful language access" to all patients. But in a city where more than 140 different languages are spoken, this is no easy task.