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9/15/23 blog post

Fern Leland connects patients and providers as a medical interpreter

Fern Leland wearing a red blazer posing in front of a rainbow mural

Fern Leland is called “La Voz” by some patient families that she works with. This translates to “The voice” and as a Language Access Coordinator at Dayton Children’s, she works to give a voice to patient families.  

“I love interpreting for families, helping them to get their message to the providers,” says Fern.  

Fern grew up in Venezuela with a Hispanic father and an American mother. Her parents encouraged her to be bilingual and she learned Spanish first. That’s where her journey to becoming a medical interpreter truly began. Then, five years ago, she got the opportunity to join the Dayton Children’s team.  

“When I was given the chance to be an interpreter here, I picked here because I love the care given to children by staff who go out of their way to make sure the kids and families feel comfortable,” she shares.   

Whether she is interpreting (oral communication), or translating (written communication), her role is to transform the complex medical concepts to families who primarily speak Spanish to help give them peace of mind and allow them to participate in their child’s care. Fern reminds families that these services are free. She makes connections with the family, and she offers them comfort during what might be a scary time during their journey. Fern has to focus on sharing the message back and forth between patient and provider without sharing her own opinion or changing the meaning. And this can be a challenge because she says the word “straw” as at least a dozen different meanings in Spanish based on the dialect and region! 

But Fern continues to go above and beyond for her families to offer them peace of mind and help while they are at Dayton Children’s. She is part of making the experience better. And she is open to helping others to do the same job.  

For Fern, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is important at Dayton Children’s as she loves to share her culture with her coworkers and patient families.  

“When I first got asked about Hispanic Heritage Month they asked what I did on this month but we just lived it! I think that its great here at the hospital to not only celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month but all of the other cultures. It exposes people to different cultures worldwide. If people haven’t had a chance to travel what a wonderful way to capture their attention and to expose the children”