Patient Bill of Rights Translated into Navajo

March 4, 2005

Contact Jennifer Riordan 272-0261, 220-0702


Navajo American Indians have the same patient rights at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) as do all patients but until recently, they did not know it.

For the first time in American medical history, the Patient Bill of Rights has been translated into the Navajo language. The Patient Bill of Rights outlines a patient's rights and responsibilities when they are admitted to UNMH.

UNM Health Sciences Center (HSC) Navajo Interpreter and Translator Lee Rodgers recently translated the Patient Bill of Rights into Navajo because no such document had yet been produced. According to the Indian Health Service (IHS), the majority of Navajo people do not read Navajo because it is a relatively young written language. But Rodgers believed it important that the increasing numbers who do read Navajo be represented.

Rodgers had one year to complete this task but only took two months, with expert help from Dr. Robert Young, UNM professor emeritus and author of the Navajo Colloquial Dictionary. Ester Yazzie-Lewis from the Federal Court System edited the Bill.

UNM HSC Chief Executive Officer Steve McKernan was proud of UNM HSC's unprecedented development: "The translation of the Patient Bill of Rights into the Navajo language is another example of the UNM HSC being at the forefront of patient care," McKernan said.

In recognition of this progressive development, Rodgers presented two, oversized, framed copies of the Navajo translated Patient Bill of Rights to McKernan and Patricia Franceschini, former supervisor of the UNMH Interpreter Language Services Program (ILS) at the Clinical Operations Board Meeting, this morning, Friday March 4. Rodgers was also recognized for her commitment to representing people of the Navajo Nation and was presented with a plaque at the presentation.

The Interpreter Language Services Program at UNM HSC provides professional language interpreters to limited-English-proficient and hearing-impaired patients. ILS translators must provide translation of any documents for the UNM HSC.

Contact: Jennifer Riordan, 272-3322

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