Healthcare, Homelessness and Hope

SBR Health and a new Boston-area nonprofit, Found in Translation, share an important core value: connecting patients and healthcare professionals through better communication. Found in Translation is the brain-child of Executive Director Maria Vertkin, who thought it would be a good idea to connect homeless, bilingual women with free job training to become medical interpreters, whose average annual salary is over $40,000. In Boston shelters, more than 40% of families identify as Hispanic/Latino (Source: Annual Census Report), and many are bilingual women.

Maria, an Israeli citizen born in Russia, saw an opportunity to help bilingual women by creating a program that offers not only a 12-week medical interpreter’s certification course, but common sense support such as child care and transportation. The Kip Tiernan Fellowship Committee at Rosie’s Place saw the opportunity too, and awarded Maria with a $40,000 start-up grant in 2011. Found in Translation graduated their first class of 21 women, selected from a pool of 164 applicants, in April 2012.

“The potential for women in this job field is tremendous,’ said Maria, who has worked as an interpreter and translator since she was a teenager. ‘Our program participants are looking at a 500% income increase. That not only helps the women and their families, it helps fill a need in the hospital workforce and improves the quality of healthcare for non-English speakers.”

Today, hundreds of low-income, bilingual women are waiting to apply for their next training cycle in 2013, hoping for an opportunity to use their language skills to create a better life for themselves and their families.

The next few months are critical for Found in Translation – additional funds are deeply needed to continue this important program.  Party Around the World is the organization’s first annual fundraiser – a multi-cultural celebration with live Latin, African and Chinese lion dance performances, multi-cultural foods, and world music. It takes place at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, MA on November 16, 2012 from 6 to 10 pm.  Tickets are only $55 general admission and $25 for students/starving artists. Please buy tickets, enjoy a fun night out and support this great organization!


For more information about Found in Translation, please visit their website: or contact Maria Vertkin at


Blending mHealth and Telemedicine

The World Congress hosted three conferences in one space this week at the Colonnade here in Boston with a great pool of innovators and thought leaders in the mHealth and telemedicine space.

While the three conferences – mHealth, mHealth Innovation Exchange and the Leadership Summit on Telemedicine – were all unique in focus, I think they could have easily been combined into one conference. With discussions on the latest technologies and initiatives transforming healthcare today, it was hard to choose between attending an mHealth or telemedicine sessions, as they are really one in the same.

Alex Nason, Director of Telehealth at Johns Hopkins Medical, summarized the three conferences’ theme well. ‘It’s the connection to health service delivery that matters.’ Both mHealth and telemedicine are services and means for improving the quality and delivery of care. Connecting payers, providers with patients, we’re all in the ‘service’ of innovating care. And it’s a good service to be in.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights:


-Consumer Trends for Mobile Solutions

-Building Scalable and Sustainable mHealth Behavior Change

-Joslin Everywhere Diabetes Mobile Health Initiative

-Connected Mobile Health Apps and Consumer Engagement

-Intersection of Social Media, Games and mHealth

-Mobile Monitoring for Chronic Conditions

-Global mHealth Perspectives and Challenges

Telemedicine Summit:

-Transitioning to Virtual Care Models

-Telemedicine Funding Opportunities and Current Initiatives

-Pediatric Specialist Care Delivery via Telemedicine


-Legal Requirements of Telemedicine

-Virtual Care Team Coordination

-Social Media and Telemedicine

-Prescribing via Telemedicine