Since most of our patients don’t speak English as their primary language (over 30 languages are represented at AFC!), pre-COVID-19 we relied on a team of more than 90 volunteer interpreters to make communication between patients and providers possible.
Our volunteers are a varied group, coming to us from jobs in technology, law, government, and business. One is even an economist who keeps his certified nursing assistant license current by volunteering regularly!
Nancy Bossard, a realtor by day, had the opportunity to learn Spanish years ago when her husband’s job took their family to Columbia. When they moved back to Northern Virginia, she was able to keep her language skills sharp since many of her clients in our diverse, metropolitan region speak Spanish. Someone she met through her real estate work told her about AFC nearly a decade ago, and luckily for us, the rest is history!
Since the pandemic turned our world upside down, Nancy, already a fixture around here, has been invaluable. She even volunteers on Saturdays (outside normal AFC business hours) with Dr. Ian Shenk who has been coming in on weekends during the pandemic when the clinic is empty to hold telehealth appointments onsite.
Dr. Shenk summed up why Nancy has become such an effective partner in care: “There is an aspect that’s lost when you see a patient via video call – a more intimate understanding that you can usually only reach when you are in the same room. Not only is Nancy an exceptional interpreter, she has a certain magic that allows us to bridge the gap that technology creates. She cares about the patient and their well-being every bit as much as I do, and that empathy and compassion somehow overcomes the digital distance.”
Nancy has become AFC’s test pilot for new telehealth models and has stepped into the role of “Telehealth Coordinator.” Her flexibility and tolerance for uncertainty have made her an important advisor for our Volunteer Director as she’s worked to establish systems to support AFC’s “new normal.”
It’s easy to imagine how Nancy’s years spent connecting with buyers and sellers – helping them feel comfortable and confident making real estate decisions – would be experience she’d draw on when helping our patients who are nervous about telehealth feel confident to try something new. When something goes wrong with a telehealth appointment she never panics. She’s always the one to reassure us all with ”We’ll figure it out!”