Coming to the hospital can be scary enough without having to worry if you can communicate your needs. Hearing impaired patients often rely upon interpreters to communicate and relay their needs. Pullman Regional Hospital does not employ a hearing interpreter so this can leave a gap in service unless a family member helps or uses our tele-interpretation services. So when a flustered mother who is hearing impaired came to the Lab with her three year old for a test on her little girl, she was understandably relieved when Tonijo Batterton was working at the Outpatient Registration desk. Tonijo is certified in sign language interpretation with an AA degree from Spokane Falls Community College. Tonijo started signing with the mother right away. Noel Nicolai who had helped the mother and her daughter find their way to the Laboratory said the look on the mother’s face was “one of relief” when Tonijo calmly stepped in to assist the mother through sign language.
“We are seeing more hearing impaired patients,” Tonijo said. She hopes to take a refresher course in Spokane that would teach sign language for medical terminology that she could then use for patients at Pullman Regional Hospital.\
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