Western Sydney supports travellers in quarantine with mental health and interpreting

Health care interpreters Yulita Luck and Nicky (You) Wu in the service’s new video/phone interpreting soundproof booths.

10,000 interpreting sessions.

That’s the level of support Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is providing to returned travellers spending their 14-day quarantine in Sydney hotels.

Since it became mandatory for travellers to spend two weeks in isolation upon arrival in Australia, the medical teams attending to thousands of people have had 24/7 access to WSLHD Health Care Interpreter Service and Mental Health Services.

More than 10,000 phone interpreting sessions have been provided since April 4, utilising technology to provide telehealth support to patients and families, and demand has steadily increased to the point that our interpreters currently provide an average of 268 sessions per day.

Sessional interpreters coordinator Chamoun Bechara

The acute mental health triage teams based out of Merrylands and Blacktown have also provided psychiatric consultation for many mental health episodes.

WSLHD Mental Health Services executive director Professor Bill Brakoulias acknowledged mandatory isolation could be difficult and stressful.

“The travellers do have access to healthcare support including GPs, so our role is to support these clinicians with specialist expertise. They can call us at any time to assess the situation, provide advice and speak to a psychiatrist if necessary,” Prof Brakoulias said.

WSLHD Health Care Interpreter Service manager Gordana Vasic said the district’s interpreters have provided an invaluable clinical support service.

“It’s crucial at the best of times to have access to healthcare advice in your own language, let alone during a pandemic,” Ms Vasic said.

“A number of patients have had regular follow-ups with the assistance of our interpreters to monitor any COVID-like symptoms as well as any other concerns.

“Interpreter Service is happy to be a part of the large NSW Health team that has been successfully fighting this pandemic and caring for the community.”

If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation, please call triple-zero (000) or the following organisations for 24/7 support:

  • Mental Health Hotline – 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36
  • Men’s Help – 1300 78 99 78