Hispanic Heritage Month: Medical interpreters

It can be hard to understand the medical terms our doctors use. Imagine dealing with a language barrier on top of that.
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Saturday, Oct. 15, is the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. Action 2 News has been bringing you the stories of Latinos in our communities. Today we meet a Mexican immigrant who made a successful career in the health care field in Wisconsin.

It can be hard to understand the medical terms our doctors use even when we, the patients, speak the same language. Imagine dealing with a language barrier, too. That’s where medical interpreters can be a huge help.

“Ella va a estar cómoda...”

Rodolfo Osuna Leon works hard because he knows his patients are often going through hard times.

“Even patients, as soon as they see me or my colleagues, they express, ‘Oh, thank God someone’s here in person to help us with the language,’” Osuna says.

The 34-year-old has been a U.W. Health medical interpreter in Madison for four years. He interprets for Spanish-speaking patients.

He spent the first part of his life in Mexico. “I arrived here in 2002, I believe. I was only 14 years old. I came with my parents, and we were coming here for a year, just for me and brothers to learn English.”

One year turned into 20.

Osuna is one of nine medical interpreters on staff at U.W. Health. Eight of them speak Spanish.

He’s proud of what he does, “Because when I come here and I know that a patient is able to communicate all of their needs, all of their concerns, that’s just very rewarding to me.”

We reached out to health systems around Northeast Wisconsin. Ascension, Aurora, Bellin and Prevea all say they can have medical interpreters available for their patients within minutes, either in person or virtually.