Virtual health advice in any language

Dr Sher gave Shiksha health advice through a Hindi interpreter. (Supplied)

Michaela Meade

Northern Health’s virtual emergency department (ED) is now offering interpretation services for its patients.

Emergency physician, Dr Loren Sher, said she is happy the Australian-first online service now allows for patients to seek care in their own language, every day.

“We have so far seen numerous patients who needed to get an interpreter involved,” Dr Sher said.

“The service is available through Northern Health’s interpreting team and for all languages.”

Epping local Shiksha was the first to use the virtual ED interpreting services that launched in February, and said she had trouble understanding the doctor’s English at first.

“Once the interpreter joined, the communication between the medical staff and myself became very fluid and I am very happy with how it all went,” Shiksha said.

According to Northern Health, emergency staff are enjoying their virtual shifts and providing one-on-one consultation to patients and families without the noise and distraction of a busy emergency department.

“It allows busy families to access emergency care without having to bundle all the kids into the car,” Dr Sher said.

“It’s particularly great when we can manage the patients completely virtually and spare them the inconvenience of having to drive in.”

Shiksha said the convenience of the service is a key benefit, and has already been spreading the word in her local community.

“Some people don’t know how to drive, so the virtual ED can be really beneficial for them,” Shiksha said.

“I hope that, with my feedback, people from non-English speaking backgrounds wouldn’t hesitate to use the virtual ED and the language services.”

Northern Health plans to offer AUSLAN capabilities in the future.