Interpreter works hard at hospital near China-Laos border

By Gateway   |    2024-07-05 17:34:19

"I'm on my way. Which bed?" At Mengla County People’s Hospital in south Yunnan's Xishuangbanna, Song Zhangwen, a Lao language interpreter, is busy answering his ringing phone.

Song is responsible for translating for Laos patients in all departments of the hospital. “He is the most trusted interpreter and doctor for Laos patients,” said the hospital staff.

The story of Song and his Laos patients began in 2013.

In 2013, Song came to the Mengla County People’s Hospital to serve Laos patients. His experience of growing up in Laos and returning to China in his teens gives him a unique affection for the country. “I understand them better and hope to use my skills to help more Laos patients,” he said.

“Laos has its own dialects in northern provinces, so Song has learned over 20 accents to communicate smoothly with patients.” “Patients who go to Jinghong city all request Song to accompany them,” Song colleagues said.

Crossing borders and saving lives requires continuous dedication.

“I’m on call at all hours, even at 4 or 5 in the morning, ready to come to the hospital at any time. For 11 years, I’ve avoided alcohol and hardly traveled. My top priority is to ensure that patients receive proper care.”

As the number of Laos patients increases, Song, one of only two Laos interpreters at the hospital, finds his workload growing. “Sometimes while attending to one patient, I keep another patient on the phone to ensure everyone receives timely treatment.”

Since 2013, including Song, all the hospital’s medical staff have worked tirelessly to protect patients’ health. In 2023, the Mengla County People’s Hospital treated 3,220 Lao outpatients and admitted 351 Lao inpatients.

Moreover, the hospital has signed cooperation agreements with hospitals in Laos’ Luang Namtha and Phongsali provinces, engaging in various exchanges and collaborations in patient referrals, hospital management, personnel exchange, specialty capacity building, and talent training.  

Source: Yunnan Daily; trans-editing by Guo Yao

Interpreter works hard at hospital near China-Laos border