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VUMC interpreter receives honor from international association

Jun. 9, 2016, 9:47 AM

For the first time ever a Vanderbilt University Medical Center interpreter was named Interpreter of the Year by the International Medical Interpreters Association.

A native of Venezuela, Karina Maza is certified medical interpreter at the Medical Center and specializes in working with high-risk pregnancy patients in the Center for Women’s Health. She has been with Vanderbilt since 2011.

Karina Maza, with her award from the International Medical Interpreters Association.
Karina Maza, with her award from the International Medical Interpreters Association.

“I have a background in communications,” said Maza. “When I moved to Tennessee in 2010 I wanted to do something with my skills and take advantage of being bilingual. I was introduced to this profession and absolutely love it.”

Medical interpreters are highly skilled professionals and have specialized training in interpretation technique, medical terminology and interpreter ethics. Interpreter services for those who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) falls under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and those who speak American Sign Language (ASL) are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

At Vanderbilt there are 25 employees with Interpreter Services to help patients who are deaf and hard of hearing, visually impaired or speak limited English. These services include: ASL interpreters, readers for patients who are visually impaired or blind, assistive listening devices, Patient Rights and Responsibilities documents in Braille and access to qualified interpreters for LEP patients, which covers about 70 languages.

“I love being able to bridge the communication gap between providers and patients,” said Maza. “We really make a difference when we are present for both patients and the care providers.

“Without having an interpreter available for patients, there is a key piece of the conversation that is lost and vital information that needs to be communicated,” she said. “I love that I am a part of that process.”

Maza was nominated by colleagues within Vanderbilt Interpreter Services.

According to her supervisor, T. Hope Collins, manager of Vanderbilt Interpreter Services, Maza was the perfect candidate for the national award.

“Not only is Karina a highly skilled interpreter, she goes above and beyond,” said Collins. “She serves as the treasurer for the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (TAPIT) and was selected to attend a specialized training course called Bridging the Gap.

“In addition, she is studying nutrition in her spare time for her own professional development,” said Collins. “On top of all of her accomplishments, she has the most wonderful, positive attitude.”

Maza was presented the award during the honor during the organization’s annual conference.

IMIA was founded in 1986. With more than 2,000 members it is the oldest and largest medical interpreter association in the United States.

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