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Tears filled the man’s eyes as he repeatedly bowed and said “thank you, thank you” in lightly accented English.
His translator cried too.
What sparked this emotional reaction?
“I handed him a copy of an advance care directive document in Vietnamese,” says Hilary Walker.
The scene made a deep impression on her.
As the program coordinator for advance care planning at PeaceHealth in Bellingham, Wash., Hilary knows well the power of people sharing with loved ones what they want if they can’t speak for themselves.
Doing so with materials in their native language is even more so.
Fast forward a few weeks. Anjala Farook, a patient access representative at PeaceHealth’s Center for Senior Health, was working with Hilary to complete her advance care directive when her daughter, Anisha, asked whether the materials were available in Punjabi.
It wasn’t that they needed the Punjabi version personally, but both mother and daughter have a large number of friends and family who could use it. And the population of Punjabi-speakers is growing immensely in Northwest Washington.
Anisha speaks English and Hindi, but not Punjabi. “It’s hard to translate the full meaning of some words from English to Hindi to Punjabi.”
“Since consent forms come in different languages, I thought it was worth a shot to see if a health directive was available in Punjabi,” Anisha said. “It’s important to know what a patient’s goals and values are so giving people this resource in their own language to read it themselves and understand it is a lot better than me trying to translate and hoping they understand.”
Hilary didn’t have any materials in Punjabi so she began an intensive search that came up empty. No organizations or health systems had any either.
She contacted Aging With Dignity, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people create advance care directives, to understand what it would take to translate the Five Wishes® document. And then she talked with her director, Daleasha Hall.
Daleasha said, “We’ll do it!”
With generous funding from the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation, PeaceHealth sponsored the translation of Five Wishes® into Punjabi.
For the first time ever, Five Wishes® is now in Punjabi and is being made widely available across the country.
It’s the newest language in a catalog of nearly 30 languages available, including Vietnamese, which Hilary used with the tearfully grateful gentleman so many months ago.
Photo above provided courtesy of Hilary Walker, Anjala Farook and Anisha Farook.