Christie Blondek _Bridging the hearing gap

Patricia Kutza
Vallejo Community Issues Examiner 
examiner.com; January 31, 2013

Welcome to the lastest issue of Vallejo hometown advantage! We dedicate this series to Vallejoans who are positively influencing the way Vallejoans feel about themselves and their community.

Earlier this week we talked about Touro University's student-run free clinic that operates every Thursday night in Vallejo. We focused on their medication-review program. Like we mentioned, the Clinic offers a number of services to everyone who can attend their Clinic on Thursday nights. In a later posting we will talk more about these services.

One of the beauties of the Clinic is its win-win proposition - Everybody involved benefits. In this posting we shine our spotlight on Christie Blondek. Blondek is a member of Touro University's Joint MSPAS/MPH Program, Class of 2015 and is a volunteer translator for deaf patients receiving treatment at the clinic. In a Q/A session with the Vallejo Community Issues Examiner she gives us some background information and shares what the Clinic experience means to her.

VCIE: Where did you receive your your sign language training?

Blondek: During my undergraduate education at the University of Pittsburgh, I received a Certificate in American Sign Language along with my Bachelor's degree. Receiving the certificate allowed me to adopt ASL as a second language along with gaining a large exposure to the Deaf culture.

VCIE: How do you use these skills at the Clinic?

Blondek: As an interpreter, I am responsible for bridging the language barrier between the patient and the healthcare provider. During my volunteer experience, my duties start as soon as the patient walks into the clinic and end when the patient leaves the clinic. When the patient walks in, I am responsible for making sure they are properly checked-in for their appointment. While the patient is waiting I continuously give the patient updates about their appointment and when they will be seen by the student volunteers in the clinic.

Once the patient is ready to be seen, I walk the them through their entire appointment. The appointment normally begins with taking their height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, etc. and then leads into their actual treatment. During the patients appointment I am signing the entire time to properly translate information between the healthcare provider and the patient. When the appointment is finished, I help the patient set up a new appointment and make sure they are situated before leaving the clinic.

VCIE: What are the personal benefits you receive from this work?

Blondek: Overall, I really enjoy interpreting at the clinic. Knowing that I am involved in helping patients receive medical treatment that they would not normally receive is truly rewarding.

Every Thursday evening from 4:30-8:00pm; Norman C. King Community Center | (707) 653-6331, 545 Magazine St, Vallejo, CA 94590; Website: Tourofreeclinic.org

Stay Tuned! In our next Clinic-related posting, we will introduce more members of the Clinic and the services they provide. We will also talk about an exciting event in February that benefits the Clinic and features an extraordinary documentary about a prominent Bay Area hospital.