Local News

January 2, 2013

Translating the medicine

Logansport Memorial Hospital employs two full-time Spanish-speaking interpreters

Mary Carmen Santella-Mercurio follows patients from consults to surgeries to the recovery room, but she’s not a doctor.

As an interpretor at Logansport Memorial Hospital, Santella-Mercurio helps Spanish-speaking patients understand all aspects of their hospital visits, which can include everything from billing to siting with the patient during a live surgery. For patients who speak a language outside of Spanish, the hospital uses a phone interpretation system.

Growing up in Argentina, Santella-Mercurio was expected to follow the family profession and become a doctor. But she chose instead to pursue teaching and translation and eventually ended up at Indiana Beef Products. Now, at the hospital, Santella-Mercurcio said she feels like she’s come full-circle.

“It’s a way of practicing medicine without the whole responsibility,” Santella-Mercurio said.

Santella-Mercurio and the other translators — Guadalupe Cruz, a full-time interpreter, and Ceshli Castro-Diaz, who fills in when needed — had to take courses in subjects like anatomy and medical terminology to become certified as medical interpreters.

Since June 2001, Santella-Mercurio has been responsible for translating everything the health care providers say for the patients. Because Santella-Mercurio sees some patients through multiple hospital visits, she says they often form a bond.

“You sort of build a relationship,” Santella-Mercurio said.

Santella-Mercurio said she feels she can help calm patients by helping them understand what’s happening, especially when they don’t have any other family members around during child births.

“They really calm down,” Santella-Mercurio said.

When a patient speaks a language other than Spanish or English, Sue Smith, patient access manager, said the hospital uses a telephone system.

“We can handle all languages,” Smith said.

All of the language services are free for patients, Smith said.

Part of Santella-Mercurio’s job is explaining the medical procedure to the family members who visit. She also helps patients as they go through financial counseling.

“That’s a big thing now,” Santella-Mercurio said.

With work in all of the hospital departments, Santella-Mercurio said it’s not a sit down job.

“We rarely have a moment where we’re not going from one place to another,” Santella-Mercurio said.

Santella-Mercurio and Cruz work about 40 hours a week for five days a week and then trade off being on call after hours and on weekends.

Hospital CEO Dave Ameen said they will try to organize schedules to make sure there are translators available when Spanish-speaking clients are coming in.

However, even with the full-time translators, Ameen said they still have to work hard to keep up with need.

“The challenge is you’ve never got enough,” Ameen said.

Ameen said that bringing understanding to the patient is an important part of medical care.

“You can provide better care when you can communicate to the patient,” Ameen said.

By the side of the patients, Santella-Mercurio said she sees patients go through good and bad outcomes. But asked about the most rewarding part of her job, Santella-Mercurio said her favorite part of the job is “when you see a patient that is happy.”

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • UPDATED: Logansport HS teacher arrested on child seduction charge

    A Logansport High School teacher was arrested Thursday on a charge of child seduction.

    April 18, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 18, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS-PT041814 LC50 cords.jpg 50 years later WALTON -- Dean "D.A." Zehring graduated from the current Lewis Cass High School, but he never attended classes there. It's one of the unique characteristics of the graduating class of 1968, the first class to complete all four years of high school un

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Caston considers Logan bus stop FULTON -- Caston Schools administrators are considering establishing a bus stop a few miles outside its boundaries on the north side of Logansport. The school board recently discussed the feasibility of adding a bus stop for students transferring fro

    April 18, 2014

  • mushroom Parks let mushroom hunters forage off-trail INDIANAPOLIS - Rain that pounded Brown County State Park in early April dampened the number of hikers and mountain bikers in Indiana's largest state park, but foragers of the property's 15,000 acres of forest welcomed the weather. With the arrival o

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police blotter: April 17, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 G.jpg Sign of support: Class meant to connect hearing-impaired family members Jordanna Dishner-Rush gestured forcefully to a coat rack hanging in the back of the meeting room at the Logansport Library. She was trying to use just hand motions — no speech — to get the other women to guess the secret word she'd been given. Dishne

    April 17, 2014 12 Photos

  • Logansport graduation rate rises again Logansport High School's graduation rate jumped almost 2 percentage points to 92.9 percent in 2013, data released Wednesday show. The Indiana Department of Education released graduation data for the 2012-2013 school year Wednesday. The data show that

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 Mustangs.jpg Local dealer celebrates the Mustang Fifty years ago today, the Ford Mustang was introduced to the public at the New York World's Fair. Now, six of them will be on display for the next few weeks at Rick's Auto Sales in Logansport celebrating what the business owner says is a half centur

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Redevelopment commission proposes new TIF expansion The Logansport Redevelopment Commission is now considering including land surrounding Water Street in a proposed consolidation of the city's tax increment financing districts. A tax increment financing, or TIF, district, captures the increments of an

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

     View Results