Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association partners with CareOregon, leverages $250,000 investment to transform how the two organizations work with and support interpreters

PORTLAND, Ore. (Nov. 23, 2021)—Today, the Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association announced a groundbreaking partnership with CareOregon that aims to transform how the two organizations support interpreters and individuals who need language access to fully participate in their health care journey.

“The state estimates that 40% of Oregon Health Plan members are English language learners,” said Maria Michalczyk, OHCIA’s President of the Board of Directors.  “Health care interpreters (HCIs) are a critical part of the care teams for these members. However, barriers of cost and time, and difficulty in obtaining some of the requirements are preventing trained and untrained interpreters from pursuing state credentialing. Our partnership with CareOregon will give us the funding needed to offer case management services and direct financial support to help interpreters through the training and the process to obtain credentials.”

In total, the two-year $250,000 investment in OHCIA will result in:

  • Direct financial support for interpreters to complete state credentialing, including covering the costs of training courses and the associated costs incurred when pursuing qualification or certification, such as childcare, access to technology, and transportation.
  • The provision of case management and financial support to help 80 interpreters complete training and credentialing by the end of 2023.
  • Health care interpreter training tuition for those presently working as interpreters and those wishing to enter the field.
  • An assessment of CareOregon’s language access processes to ensure that the organization is best able to support its health care interpreters and the members they serve.
  • The development (based on the language access assessment) and delivery of training for health care providers on the provision of health care interpreting.

“Good communication creates the bond between patient and provider that promotes health awareness, timely access, treatment compliance, and a healthy lifestyle,” said James Mason, CareOregon Chief Equity Diversity & Inclusion Officer. “But for patients who are also English language learners, there are too many instances where language itself is a barrier. By working with the Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association, we are working to address these issues head on.” 

“OHCIA believes that this is the first partnership of its kind between a health plan and health care interpreter association and will be monumental for communities requiring health care interpreting”, said Michalczyk. 

“For us, this is a great opportunity to further our mission of supporting a highly skilled health care interpreter community so they can become economically successful and valued as integral members of the health care team,” said Susy Molano OHCIA’s Executive Director. “This funding will strengthen our organization, position us to help untrained and trained interpreters get their names in the state registry and, most importantly, to advance the profession to improve health outcomes for Oregon’s diverse communities. The out-of-pocket cost alone for state credentialing can be upwards of $1,400 for certifiable languages. CareOregon’s investment will help offset and cover these costs—bringing the vision of recruiting and engaging interpreters from the communities they serve and increasing the quality and quantity of HCIs available to assist English language learners.”

About the Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association

The Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association (OHCIA) is a nonprofit 501C3 organization founded in 2010. The OHCIA was founded by interpreters and has been dedicated to creating positive changes for the Pacific Northwest's diverse populations. OHCIA’s vision is to have a highly skilled HCI community that is economically successful and valued as an integral member of the health care team. OHCIA’s mission is to advance the Health Care Interpreter profession to improve health outcomes for our community.

About CareOregon

For more than 25 years, CareOregon has offered health services and community benefit programs to Oregon Health Plan members. Today, we support the needs of more than 500,000 Oregonians through three coordinated care organizations, a Medicare Advantage plan, a Tribal Care Coordination program, a dental care organization, and in-home medical care with Housecall Providers. CareOregon members have access to integrated physical, dental and mental health care, and substance use treatment. We believe that good health requires more than clinics and hospitals, so we also connect members to housing, fresh food, education and transportation services. CareOregon is a mission-driven, community-based nonprofit with offices in Portland, Medford and Seaside, Oregon.