Hospital interpreter honored by Elgin Hispanic Network
By Tara Garcia Mathewson
Patty Arroyo has been speaking Spanish at various levels of fluency and precision for her whole life. During high school and college she learned the finer details of grammar and more complex tenses and conjugations, adding rules for where to put accents to her knowledge base.
Arroyo, who lives in Streamwood, got a degree in health care administration from Northern Illinois University and a job with Provena St. Joseph Hospital before she even graduated. Because she was bilingual, Arroyo would often get pulled in to help interpret for patients — much to her chagrin in the days when words like “gallbladder” were not in her Spanish vocabulary.
Now, 16 years later, Arroyo oversees the interpretation services and community health departments at Provena in Elgin. She interprets for patients on a daily basis in a job she loves with a passion few find in their life’s work.
There are six interpreters at Provena’s Elgin location offering Spanish, Polish and sign language for patients. A phone service allows doctors and nurses to call an interpreter any time of day to help patients communicate in one of more than 200 languages they might prefer.
“We call it a ministry,” Arroyo said. “It’s a calling. That’s how we feel. We love our job.”
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