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WTFC receives video interpreter machine

New technology is breaking down barriers to bring the people of Western Tidewater the health care services they need.

On June 4, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic received a video interpreter machine from AshBritt-IEM Health.

“We are really excited about this new partnership,” said Ashley Greene, director of development at the Western Tidewater Free Clinic. “We couldn’t do anything without our partners.”

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic is located off of Meade Parkway and provides non-emergency health care to the residents of Western Tidewater who could not otherwise afford it. Before this new video translator, the clinic only had an audio-only translation service through a telephone, which posed issues once COVID-19 regulations came into effect.

This new translator has a screen with video technology for clients to easily select their language. With more than 131 languages, the software can also do American Sign Language by video-calling a real person who will watch and translate between the Western Tidewater Free Clinic staff and the client.

The screen is on a moveable stand, much like an IV, that can follow the client throughout their entire visit to multiple locations in the clinic. This same technology can be found at the Suffolk COVID-19 vaccination community clinic.

“This language device is probably the most popular thing bought during COVID,” said Jason Fawcett, vice president for operations at AshBritt. “Some locations in Hampton Roads have Hispanic and Korean populations who rely on this technology.”

AshBritt is an emergency relief company. When a hurricane or other natural disaster hits that is too much for the local emergency management teams to take care of, AshBritt steps in. During the pandemic, the company shifted focus to help by providing personal protection equipment, glass shields, computers and mobile vaccination sites to help ease the impact and strain of COVID-19.

According to Fawcett, this translator app is very user-friendly, and many who do not speak English fluently have recognized this device immediately.

“We appreciate the partnership and opportunity to be affiliated with AshBritt,” said Rhonda Stewart, the executive director of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic. “Their generosity is appreciated and will benefit our patients by minimizing barriers to the high-quality healthcare they deserve.”