Winthrop-University Hospital is First in New York Metro Area to Pioneer New Communication System for Hearing-Impaired Patients

Vol. 12, No. 1
March, 2002

  • Winthrop-University Hospital Comes Out on Top of Joint Commission Accreditation of Healthcare Organization's 2001 Survey

  • Winthrop's Todd J. Cohen, MD Implants Hospital's First Patient with New Device to Treat Congestive Heart Failure

  • Winthrop-University Hospital First on L.I. to Perform Cardiac Surgery Without Stitches

  • Winthrop-University Hospital's New PET Imaging Center Opens, Offers Greater Hope to Cancer Patients

  • Winthrop-University Hospital First on Long Island to Use New Fetal Oxygen Sensor During Labor and Delivery

  • Winthrop's New Breast Imaging & Diagnostic Suite - "One Stop Shop" for Women

  • Promising New Treatments on Horizon for Parkinson's Disease

  • Winthrop-University Hospital is First in New York Metro Area to Pioneer New Communication System for Hearing-Impaired Patients

  • Winthrop Pediatricians Turn Literary for Kids

  • "Nursing Home Without Walls" Gives Elderly and Disabled Independence in Their Own Home

  • "Balloon" Technique Helps Mend Spine Fractures, Relieves Pain in Patients with Osteoporosis

  • Long Island Poison & Drug Information Center at Winthrop Stresses Prevention to Avoid Accidental Poisonings

  • Winthrop Awarded $1.1 Million Grant from New York State

  • AT&T Employees Tee Off to Help Children at Winthrop's Cancer Center for Kids

  • Citibank Gives Hope to Children at Winthrop-University Hospital's Cancer Center For Kids in Form of a $10,000 Donation

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  • A remote interpreter signs to a patient through the SignTalk America system. The camera attached to the television set sends the image of the patient to the interpreter for instant communication.
    Winthrop is breaking down the communication barriers that once existed between hearing-impaired patients and medical staff through the new SignTalk America system. A revolutionary communication tool, SignTalk America allows the Hospital to serve this region's hearing-impaired residents in a more comprehensive and effective way by providing remote video interpreting to a patient's bedside.

    "In emergency situations, immediate response is key," said Gerald Brody, MD, Winthrop's Chairman of Ambulatory Care and Director, Emergency Department which handles nearly 43,000 visits a year. "When we have an immediate need for a sign language interpreter this new system will be able to deliver communication in a matter of minutes. In critical situations, every minute counts."

    How It Works
    Developed for Winthrop, SignTalk America is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Situated on specially designed carts that can be wheeled throughout the Hospital, the system uses a television with an attached video camera to send and receive images from the patient's hospital bed to a sign language interpreter on-call outside the hospital.

    The system can be connected to any television cable outlet in the Hospital and, when activated, sends a signal to the signer. With the SignTalk America equipment already installed in the interpreter's home, an immediate connection with the patient is established upon receipt of the call and communication begins. The signer, trained in medical interpretation, then relays the patient's message by voice to the healthcare professional. In addition, the system utilizes an encryption system, which preserves patient confidentiality and privacy.

    "Communication between hearing-impaired patients and medical staff has become much easier and faster now that real-time communication is right at the patient's bedside," explained Ann Hanford, RN, Director, Continuum of Care.

    The SignTalk America system is usable on patient floors, in the Emergency Department, Admissions, Pre-Admission Testing and in the Hospital's Surgical Center. The system will also be made available in Winthrop's off-site clinical locations by the end of the year.

    "The SignTalk America system at Winthrop will serve as a model for other area hospitals," added Winthrop's Manager of Telecommunications, Robert Blalock, who worked closely with TVR Communications to bring the technology to Winthrop.

    Speaking about Winthrop's attentiveness to the unique and individual needs of all its patients, Ms. Hanford added, "From patients who enter our Emergency Department on a treat and release basis to hearing-impaired mothers-to-be who come to Winthrop for prenatal visits, we are thrilled to be the first hospital in the region to provide this bedside remote interpretation to the deaf community."

    For more information on SignTalk America, please call 516-663-2075.

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