Every Wednesday night from 5:30 to 11 at the Carrboro Community Health Center, patients without insurance have a safe place to get free medical treatment. At this clinic, UNC students from all studies — medicine, pharmacy and various undergraduate schools — come together to offer health care to a community in need.
The Student Health Action Coalition, or SHAC, is the nation’s oldest student-run health clinic. It serves a large population in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area, including patients who do not speak English.
SHAC Interpreting Services provides the vital communication link for these patients to health care providers. SHAC Interpreting Services provides interpretation at all locations in the clinic, said Molly Crenshaw, the lead coordinator of the services. The program recently changed its name from SALSA — Spanish-speakers Assisting Latinos Student Association — to reflect the new Mandarin Chinese interpreting it offers.
“It’s for patients whose primary language is not English, but rather either Spanish or Mandarin, to kind of make it a more inviting environment, one in which they feel like they can ask any questions and get all the information in the best way possible,” she said.
Before becoming interpreters, applicants take a written and verbal assessment. After the initial screening, they are observed and trained on-the-job by a coordinator. Interpreters are assigned to different locations within the clinic depending upon their language proficiency — those assigned to the front desk tend to be less proficient than those assigned to the clinic, Crenshaw said. Interpreters can move between assignments as they gain proficiency.