Area man becomes medical trailblazer

By Gary Brode |

Published 07/01 2014 12:57PM

Updated 07/01 2014 01:03PM

CHAMPAIGN -- An area man is now a trailblazer. He's the first nationally-certified medical interpreter working in the area. He got the good news Sunday. WCIA-3's Gary Brode spoke with him.

He's the first in the county and one of only a handful in the state. Carlos Bocanegra is now the tenth nationally accredited medical interpreter in Illinois. He's been a medical interpreter for five years, but now, he's joined an exclusive group.

"It feels great."

It doesn't take long to find Carlos Bocanegra on the NCCA website. After years of studying, he's now on a short list, but the exclusivity isn't his proudest achievement.

"To be able to help others which don't really speak the language, it feels amazing."

Bocanegra says, even with bilingual patients, sometimes medical terms can get lost in translation. He recalls one night in particular.

"I said, 'Are you here for a stroke?' and he said, 'No, I'm actually here for convulsions.' But, the daughter said a stroke, so, even though she knew English, in Spanish, she didn't give the right information to the nurse."

Rebecca Gray is a nurse at Carle Hospital. She knows the difficulties language barriers can cause when a snap decision needs to be made.

"We have patients who come in and are uncomfortable and we kind of need to assess quickly and, when you can't communicate, it's really hard to get the information you need."

Gray says an interpreter, like Bocanegra, puts the patient at ease.

"I think it's pretty cool to have somebody that great working here for us. It's just like I am speaking the language because I talk to my patient, he communicates with the patient and he tells me what she's saying. So, it makes it a lot easier to get the information they need."

Bocanegra moved to the U.S. about eight years ago from Peru. Since then, he has worked his way up the medical ladder and isn't stopping.

"I think this is going to help me in my career path because I really want to be involved in the medical field. I am applying to be a physician assistant by the end of the summer."

Bocanegra is applying to physician assistant programs in Chicago, Portland and Atlanta. He plans on keeping his certification so, when the time comes, he won't need an interpreter for his patients.

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