Team of medical interpreters in Manchester named ‘Healthcare Heroes’

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MANCHESTER, NH – We all know Healthcare Heroes. Every hour of the day and day of the year they are on the job helping ensure that everyone is healthy, safe and well-cared for. New Hampshire is proud to honor Amoskeag Health – Team of Medical Interpreters: Ancilene Souza-Horton, Ana Avendano, Duong Thai, Hamsa Yaseen, Lizette Velasquez, Nihada Ramic, Pacifique Mugisha, Ruth Salas Rojero, Tulasi Pokhrel and Vania Navarro Cruz.

Healthcare Heroes were selected from across New Hampshire through a nominations process. This effort was run through the New Hampshire Sector Partnerships Initiative (SPI), which put out a call for nominations for individuals employed in a wide range of healthcare organizations who have gone above and beyond over the past several months to care for others. A list of all winners and runners-up can be found on the NH Health Care Association website.

“These individuals exemplify the care and commitment we see across our state as healthcare workers play such a critical role as caregivers during a pandemic that has significantly challenged us in many unprecedented ways. We know there are thousands of Healthcare Heroes across New Hampshire and wanted to showcase a few of these amazing individuals,” said Roxie Severance, healthcare sector advisor for SPI.

The team of medical interpreters provide language assistance to almost 40 percent of the patient population at Amoskeag Health, representing 10 languages. Here’s what the team’s nominator said about them: “This is a group of healthcare professionals whose involvement is vital to our patients, but their work often goes unnoticed. The role of a medical interpreter is crucial, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, because they must deliver each message in a calm, empathetic and supportive way – like a remedy for a wound. Each member of this team has gone above and beyond, putting themselves at risk to deliver the best language assistance experience with every encounter with the clinical care team.”

What follows are some comments from members of this team:

Vania Navarro Cruz worked at a health insurance company before starting work as a medical interpreter last year. “I used to get calls from members saying how hard it was to get the medical help they needed because of the language barrier,” she said. “Since I’m bilingual, I can help the Spanish-speaking community in the ways I wish my mom could have been helped when I was younger.”

Nihada Ramic has worked as a medical interpreter for almost four years. “Since this pandemic began, the greatest challenges has been adjusting to virtual interpretation,” he said. “For interpretation to be successful and most accurate in the medical setting it is important to rely on body language as much as words. We need to be able to communicate a patient’s and provider’s point of view without error and exception. The challenges that technology brings with it can make our task as interpreters more challenging, but I’ve also learned that people adjust quickly to changes and are resilient.”

Hamsa Yaseen has been a medical interpreter for nearly six years. “I used to interpret for my mother for her medical visits,” she said. “Because I had an enormous knowledge of medical terminology, my mother’s provider and specialists encouraged me to turn it into a profession. So, that’s what I did. This occupation can be demanding, but every day I’m able to help Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients have equal service.”

SPI is a collaborative, industry-led program that provides funding, training expertise and other resources to help companies within a growing industry sector collaborate on workforce development needs together. The SPI healthcare sector team developed the NH Healthcare Heroes effort. The NH Health Care Association serves as the host for the healthcare sector.

The effort is sponsored in part by the BEA through a US Department of Labor grant, Northeast Delta Dental and a local t-shirt company, Beeze Tees. For more information on this effort and to get involved in the future, please contact Roxie Severance at roxie@rsconsulting.services. For more information on SPI, please visit nhsectorpartners.org.


Amoskeag Health is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) federally qualified health center offering high-quality, comprehensive, and family-oriented primary health care and support services since 1993. Amoskeag Health at The Dr. Selma Deitch Center for Children & Teens, formerly Child Health Services, is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of at-risk children. Through all of its programs, Amoskeag Health serves over 15,000 patients annually at five locations throughout Manchester. For more information visit www.amoskeaghealth.org.