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 cal.vhio@gmail.com if you would like to request a service.

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.

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History

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.

Mission 

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 cal.vhio@gmail.com. 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...

Education (DeCal)calvhioeducation@gmail.com

2022-2023 VHIO Officers

Esther Lim
Director of External Affairs

Aileen Chuah & Esther Lim
Director of Internal Affairs

Aileen Chuah
Director of Operational Affairs

Stefanie Chen & Winnie Cheng
Chinese Department Coordinators

Yoonjeong Choi & Sion Yoo
Korean Department Coordinators

Evelyn Gonzalez & Ivy Lee Hung
Spanish Department Coordinators

Alice Tran & Lilly Tran
Vietnamese Department Coordinators

Samantha Centeno & Prince Suliva
Tagalog Department Coordinators

Lilia Dow-Yuzawa & Ryuta Shimizu
Japanese Department Coordinators

Donna Vong
Outreach Coordinator

Megan Chow & Jiyoon Chung
Education Coordinators

Ashleigh Takemoto & Eunice Tsang
Language Coordinator

Emily Kim & Rica Monis
Workshop Coordinators

Natalie Miramontes & Michelle Zhuo
Socials Coordinators

Owen Doyle & Cheryl Yang
Historian

Angela Yung
Finance Coordinator

Aileen Chuah
Publicity Coordinator

Read more about our officers here!

With thanks to...
Winston Tseng, PhD
Faculty Adviser

Rachel Morello-Frosch
Decal Faculty Sponsor

Interpretation for medical appointments

VHIO volunteers are trained in medical terminology and interpretation protocols to facilitate effective communication between healthcare providers and patients.

 

Interpreting at health fairs or screening events

If you have a medical appointment or are attending a screening event elsewhere, please contact us to request an interpreter to accompany you to your appointment.

Translating healthcare-related documents

We can translate healthcare documents, pamphlets, infographics, and any other requests for written information. All medical information is kept confidential.

Telehealth and virtual interpretation

We offer remote interpretation services to accommodate telehealth and virtual appointments.

see here