Learn more languages to overcome language barriers

CMH Specialist Hospital encourages staff to learn more languages to ensure elderly and foreign patients can seek medical help without communication obstacles, said Negri Sembilan Chinese Maternity Association (NSCMA) executive advisor Datuk Hon Choon Kim.

“We are actively recruiting new employees with multilingual skills, whether it be Hokkien, Hakka, Korean, Japanese, or Malay and Indian employees who can speak languages other than their mother tongue.

“These abilities are considered a talent that ensures seamless communication with patients,” he said, reported Sin Chew Daily.

He emphasized the hospital’s long-standing focus on the importance of customer service, especially in urgent medical cases. Many incidents have occurred where patients or their families were unable to communicate effectively in English or Malay, resulting in delays in treatment, which can be life-threatening for patients.

Therefore, in recent years, the hospital has introduced a “multilingual special allowance” to encourage staff not only to be proficient in their native language and English but also to learn an additional language.

The hospital is also promoting language training courses that employees can voluntarily sign up for to support the multilingual initiative, he said.

Shamilah Dewi, a 30-year-old pharmacist at the hospital, has served for a period of 9 years. She is a graduate of a Chinese primary school. Her teacher gave her a Chinese name (莎米拉) based on her name.

The Chinese character is read as Sa Mi La.

“Samila is the Chinese name given to me by my teacher at SJKC Kg Baru Mambau Seremban, and it’s the first Chinese character I learned. At home, I am the only one who can speak Mandarin, but I have no regrets because learning Mandarin has not only helped me but also assisted many people in need throughout my career.

“In some public settings, when people speak ill of me, I sometimes turn around and tell them, ‘Hey, I can speak Mandarin!’ to catch them off guard.”

She is the only non-Chinese pharmacist in the pharmacy department who can speak Mandarin.

To ease the workload of her colleagues who do not understand Mandarin, she compiles lists of drug names translated into Chinese, ensuring that her colleagues can better explain them to patients.