COVID Update: During this period of COVID-19, health accessibility for vulnerable populations is crucial now more than ever. We are happy to announce that VHIO is transitioning to provide in-person services once again, but will continue remote services as needed to ensure the safety of providers and volunteers. Please feel free to reach out to us by filling out our request form or emailing email@example.com if you would like to request a service.
If you are a prospective volunteer, we are currently recruiting for our 2021-2022 cycle! Please check out your social media platforms or fill out an interest form for the latest updates and information.
Healthcare without language barriers: together, we can make it possible
Welcome! Proposed in 2006 and established in 2007, we are UC Berkeley's Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization. We provide free health interpretation and translation services for low-English proficiency populations in the Bay Area.
VHIO is a University of California, Berkeley undergraduate student-led organization whose roots trace back to 2007, when it was established as the San Francisco Hepatitis B Collaborative (SFHBC) in partnership with University of California, San Francisco health professional students. SFHBC at Berkeley provided trained bilingual students as Asian language interpreters for two monthly UCSF hepatitis B student-run clinics, which we continue to volunteer at.
Dedicated to helping to stop the spread of hepatitis B, SFHBC partnered with organizations such as the San Francisco Hepatitis B Free Campaign and helped at various screening, vaccination, and education events. Four hundred million people worldwide suffer from chronic hepatitis B infection, which tragically can lead to liver cancer early in adult life. It is the 10th leading etiologic cause of death in the world. Fortunately, the spread of the hepatitis B virus is preventable with a simple, safe, and effective vaccine.
Due to an increase in demand for interpretation services, we have been expanding to provide interpretation and volunteering services for a broader range of issues beyond hepatitis B. In August 2010, SFHBC at Berkeley was renamed the Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization (VHIO) to reflect its expanded scope of language capacities and its service base across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Committed to outreach, we are continually establishing new partnerships and volunteering opportunities.
The Importance of Healthcare Interpretation
Due to convenience, family members and other ad hoc interpreters (friends, untrained medical and nonmedical staff, sometimes children and even strangers) help with interpretation in healthcare settings. Unfortunately, patients frequently report that they do not completely understand diagnoses and treatment when proper interpretation is not available. Errors in translation include omissions, additions, and false fluency; these can result in clinical consequences. There are many medical malpractice cases involving language barriers.
Many LEP patients do not have access to medical interpreters when they need the service. According to one study, no interpreter was used in 46% of the emergency room cases involving LEP individuals. Few clinicians receive training in working with interpreters; only 23% of U.S. teaching hospitals provide any such training, and most of these make it optional.
Good medical interpreters help patients communicate with medical staff. They are familiar with the languages they interpret for, including technical concepts and vocabulary. In addition, they show cultural sensitivity and act as a cultural buffer in facilitating communication.
The San Francisco County and Alameda County have a high concentration of LEP populations that speak a primary language other than English (44% and 41%) compared with the US average (20%). The San Francisco Bay Area has a long history of language rights advocacy, but there remain gaps in providing language access to LEP populations especially in safety net facilities or community educations and preventions. VHIO was established to fill this gap in interpretation services in the San Francisco Bay Area.
You can direct your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to contact a particular officer, you may reference that in the title of the email and we will get back to you.
To contact a particular department...
Director of External Affairs
Director of Internal Affairs
Director of Operational Affairs
Shirley Bi & Aileen Chuah
Chinese Department Coordinators
Eunjee Choi & Amy Cha
Korean Department Coordinators
Kattia Suarez & Sofia Delgado-Rodriguez
Spanish Department Coordinators
Briana Huynh & Nhat Nguyen
Vietnamese Department Coordinators
Tagalog Department Coordinators
Chisato Ruo & Sage Iwamoto
Japanese Department Coordinators
Yichen Zhu & Ningxin Zheng
Read more about our officers here!
With thanks to...
Winston Tseng, PhD
Hildy Fong Baker
Interpreting for medical appointments at clinics
Interpreting at health fairs or screening events
If you have a medical appointment or are attending a screening event elsewhere, you may contact us to request an interpreter to accompany you to your appointment.
Translating healthcare-related documents
We keep your medical information confidential.