Avera says interpreters key to drive-thru COVID testing site


We’ve shown you the medical workers who ran a COVID-19 test site, but there were other key individuals to make it work. For about a week, Smithfield Foods employees and their families lined up in the Washington High School Parking lot. The state, Avera, the CDC and the South Dakota National Guard coordinated the drive-thru test site.

At first glance, you probably noticed the safety precautions at the COVID-19 test site. That includes medical professionals dressed head to toe in protective gear.

“One of the most important parts of putting on a big testing center like this is to keep both patients and workers safe,” Dr. David Basel, vice president of Avera Medical Group Clinical Quality, said.

Though that is important, that’s not the only focus clinic organizers had to keep in mind when someone drove up to get tested.

“Someone comes up and is in full protective gear and talks to them, finds out which language they speak and we have a full fleet of interpreters,” Basel said.

One of those interpreters is Adane Redda.

“When you help people who don’t know English, help them understand what they’re doing, the purpose of their communication, it’s a rewarding job,” Redda said.

Redda speaks several different languages and is originally from Ethiopia. He’s a case manager at Lutheran Social Services and says his role at the test site was to make sure everything ran smoothly for people who don’t speak English as their first language.

“I was trying to help them make sure the right name, the right address, and the right birth date, and how many people were in the family,” Redda said.

Dr. Basel says this type of partnership to break language barriers is important because we could be seeing more test sites like this pop up in the future to find cases of COVID-19.

“That’s kind of the new normal. We’re going into is a lot of this, more surveillance mode. Where we try to catch where is this breaking through and trying to get a handle on it. So, I don’t think this will be the last of that type of testing center you’ll see,” Basel said.

With hundreds of different people here and multiple different languages, Redda says having interpreters is vital in order to reach a common goal.

“It’s very important for them, for us, for the entire community,” Redda said.

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