From triage to discharge, Luisa Valle is by the side of expecting moms at IU Health Methodist Hospital. It is her native tongue that helps them understand the process of bringing light into the world.
Since 2004, Valle has worked as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients at Methodist.
“In the Spanish-speaking population we talk of birth as giving light,” said Valle, who is also a certified lactation consultant. “I am here to help them bring that light into the world.”
At the bedside of Aida Vasquez who was minutes away from meeting her newborn, Valle helped order a lunch and read through paperwork. Vasquez was one of many patients Valle sees on a day-to-day basis in labor and delivery. She also works with patients in postpartum and those who have babies in NICU.
“I can’t say enough about our interpreters. They are amazing and it adds so much to patient care to know they are here with us helping the moms feel safe and secure,” said Robin Merlo, a labor and delivery nurse.
Some days Valle can see as many as 10 patients.
“I think this is a unique service that few other hospitals provide,” said Valle, who was born in Mexico and moved to the United State 20 years ago. “Some interpreters come in with you and leave with you but because we are also trained as doulas and patient consultants, we stay with them every step of the way.”
The extra training helps when she is in the labor and delivery room coaxing a patient through breathing and relaxation exercises. The ongoing conversation helps her build a relationship.
“I’m able to determine certain things that otherwise might go unseen. When a patient trusts you we might learn that there’s domestic violence or other issues that we can address. We also help them understand important safety issues like how to properly install car seats,” said Valle, who wears scrubs throughout her workday so she is ready at a moment’s notice to assist with an emergency delivery.
She often sees women when they are in one of the most vulnerable stages of their lives – becoming a first-time mother and not understanding the language or the process.
“The minute they see me, they know I am Spanish. The minute they hear my name, they smile,” said Valle. “The fact that I can help my people navigate the process that can be difficult, frightening and lonely is the greatest part of my job.”
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.