Yilu Ma, MS, MA, CMI, director, Interpreter Services
The melody and lyrics struck a sentimental and nostalgic chord for Gary Davis as he sang “Parting Glass” at the farewell party honoring him and fellow interpreters Michele Plaisimond and Teresa Gomes, who retired from BWH at the end of September. On the verge of tearing up, Gary profusely thanked his colleagues for their support and camaraderie and the opportunity to work as an interpreter at the Brigham for the last nine years.
Reflecting on his career, Gary shared how he “came late to the party,” at the age of 55, following research stints in London and Paris as a Fulbright Scholar and an extensive teaching career at various language schools and colleges. For him, medical interpreting is a calling. The profession takes discipline, passion and compassion. As a humble linguist, who is fluent in Spanish and Russian, Gary shared his gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of patients who speak languages other than English.
Looking back at her years at the Brigham, Michele Plaisimond, formerly an obstetrician/ gynecologist in Haiti, felt deeply blessed to have the privilege to serve. She says the most rewarding aspect of being a medical interpreter was the comforting feeling of gratification when her language and communication skills aided the team in easing the patients’ anxiety, clarifying misunderstandings and empowering them to participate in their health management.
“What an elating journey,” Michele added.
Teresa Gomes, a former social worker who was trained in the former Soviet Union, was a Portuguese and Cape Verdean interpreter for the past 15 years. Reminiscing about former patients, Teresa described how comforted she felt in being able to help patients with serious illness. She was particularly impressed by the kindness of her colleagues who assured patients they would help them enjoy the good days and get through the bad ones.