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Ottawa Language Access: Free Interpretation Services for Healthcare Providers
One of the key challenges when serving newcomers is communicating with them in their own language. Refugees, in particular, usually have a limited knowledge of English or French. Ottawa Language Access (OLA) – a program of Somerset West Community Health Centre's Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre – exists to fill this gap by providing free interpretation services to support service providers in Ottawa who have refugees and immigrants as patients or clients.
Launched in July 2015, OLA provides guaranteed interpretation services on request in over 150 languages, either in-person or over the phone. By providing health information that is accurately and safely conveyed, professional interpreters contribute to improved client safety and better quality of care. They are trained to be professional, accurate, and impartial at all times, and are bound by a code of ethics and strict standards of practice. Like any member of a healthcare team, professional interpreters maintain client confidentiality.
To qualify for OLA, providers and/or eligible programs must be funded by the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to serve Limited English French Proficiency (LEFP) clients and must not currently receive funding for interpretation services. In addition, OLA focuses on supporting providers and/or programs who deliver services in the priority areas of diabetes and chronic diseases, seniors’ health, and mental health and addictions (including problem gambling).