Registered nurse Judy
Kopish, right, taps a computer touch-screen to access My
Accessible Real-Time Trusted Interpreter, or MARTTI, to
connect to a live medical interpreter as Shelly Waala,
executive director of patient care service, looks on Friday
morning at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin St.
Joseph Hospital in the town of Polk.
Linda McAlpine/Daily News
TOWN OF POLK -
Imagine being injured in a car accident and being taken to the
emergency room - but you don’t speak English.
It’s a scary
scenario for those who aren’t fluent in English that can now be
avoided thanks to MARTTI, an acronym for My Accessible Real-Time
Trusted Interpreter, now in use at Froedtert & Medical College of
Wisconsin St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“We did some
research into the need for something like this in the community and
decided to pilot it,” said Shelly Waala, executive director of
patient care services for the hospital.
“It’s like Skype,”
Waala said of MARTTI, comparing it to the popular online live
With just the tap
of a fingertip on its computer touch-screen, MARTTI instantly
connects via video to an operator, who asks which language is
centers around the country, are open 24 hours a day and boast
interpreters of more than 210 languages who are trained in medical
Once connected to
the interpreter, that person can be seen on the screen and heard in
“Thanks to the
live video the patient can see the interpreter and the interpreter
can see the patient, so it really is like having a conversation,”
On Friday morning,
the MARTTI unit was mounted to a pole on wheels in one of the
hospital’s emergency rooms but because it’s wireless, it can easily
be taken to wherever in the building it is needed.
“I used it for a
class with a new mother who was going home,” said Judy Kopish, a
registered nurse in the obstetrics unit, New Life Center of the
hospital. “It was very easy to use and I think she felt quite
comfortable with it.”
Administration administrative assistant Karen Feucht said some
patients have found that having access to a live interpreter to be
an emotional experience.
“During our pilot
program, a patient who needed it for American sign language was so
moved by being able to communicate so easily through the interpreter
that he cried,” Feucht said. “I think it’s a comfort to them and
their families that they can communicate clearly through the
Waala said MARTTI,
which has helped patients who use American sign language as well as
those who speak Spanish and Hmong, is used about once a week
throughout the hospital.
“There is no
charge to our patients to use MARTTI,” public relations manager Tim
Olsen said. “I think people are surprised to find out that a small
hospital like ours can offer such a unique and important service.”