MetroWest Medical Center Moves To Phone & Video Interpreters; Lays Off Staff

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FRAMINGHAM – In the same week, that Tenet-owned MetroWest Medical Center announced the closure of its oncology and radiation oncology departments, and to suggest that cancer patients go to Worcester for treatment, it has decided to eliminate live interpretation services and has laid off some staff.

Starting today, April 14, interpreter services at MetroWest Medical Center went to phone and video only. That means no in-person interpretation is available.

“Please be aware we are standardizing our interpreter services model across the enterprise. The process for interpreter service will be utilizing phone and video starting at 11 a.m. today. To provide resources for emergency service, additional equipment was relocated to the ED this morning to provide three device to support interpreter services,” wrote the hospital administration.

MetroWest Medical Center is located in Framingham, a community where more than 70 languages are located in the Framingham Public Schools, and a community which saw a 32% increase in the Hispanic population and a 22% increase in the Asian population over the last decade.

SOURCE heard from staff at MetroWest Medical Center who said “Provider education, clinical informatics, and interpreter services” had layoffs this week.

“Our hospitals routinely look at what resources we need to maintain a high level of care for our patients in the most efficient way possible. We reorganized some duties and that affected a minimal number of positions. Impacted employees are able to apply for open positions at our hospital if they so choose. We are still actively seeking to add nurses and other clinical staff at our hospitals,” said MetroWest Medical Center in a statement.

Several hospitals in Massachusetts have moved to phone and video interpretation services, including UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

“Using trained interpreters to provide medical interpretation services is superior to services provided on an ad hoc basis, but little is known about the effectiveness of providing their services remotely, especially using video,” was an unknown until researchers did a study in 2010 and published results in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

The results were “Encounters with in-person interpretation were rated significantly higher by providers and interpreters, while patients rated all methods the same. There were no significant differences in provider and interpreter ratings of remote methods. Provider and interpreter comments on scales and interview data support the higher in-person ratings, but they also showed a distinct preference for video over the phone. Phone interviews were significantly shorter than in-person.”

Within the Framingham Public Schools, 50.5% of the students English is not their first language, according to the public school district and DESE.

More than 40% of the City residents, English is not their first language.

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare announced $97 million profit in the first quarter of this year.

Tenet Healthcare ended 2021 with a net income from continuing operations of $915 million.

The CEO of Tenet-Healthcare, which owns MetroWest Medical Center is Dr. Saum Sutaria. His base salary is $1.15 million, but his total compensation in 2021 was $21.14 million. Total compensation includes salary, bonus, stock and option awards, non-equity incentive plan compensation and all other compensation. 

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