In coronavirus fight, medical assistant MJ Martinez' translations are a lifeline for patients

'The most challenging part of my job, the hardest part, is having to deliver bad news,' says the physician's assistant, who translates in Spanish for Latino families.

9/18/2020 9:10:00 AM

'The most challenging part of my having to deliver bad news,' Marajazmin 'MJ' Martinez, a physician's assistant who translates for families, says. 'It may come from the doctor, but the patient or their family hears it from me' HospitalHeroes

'The most challenging part of my job, the hardest part, is having to deliver bad news,' says the physician's assistant, who translates in Spanish for Latino families.

ByRaul A. ReyesMarajazmin"MJ" Martinez was in elementary school when she took on the role of unofficial family translator. Martinez, a first-generation American of Mexican heritage, was used to reading school notices and bills in English and explaining what they meant to her mother, her grandmother and other relatives.

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"I knew even then, maybe in third grade, that I wanted to make it easier for people to understand each other, to help different cultures communicate," Martinez said.Martinez, 28, is now a medical assistant atAdventist Health Lodi Memorial Hospital

in the San Joaquin Valley, an area of farmland in the central part of California. She interacts with patients as well as with health care providers at all levels. As a certified interpreter, she also draws on her bilingual skills to help others."The Spanish-speaking population here is huge," Martinez said. (San Joaquin County is about 41 percent Latino.)"When you are in need and you find someone who can explain things to you in your language, you feel like you've found yourself, you feel way more connected."

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreakBeing the connection between a doctor and a patient can come with tremendous responsibility."The most challenging part of my job, the hardest part, is having to deliver bad news. It may come from the doctor, but the patient or their family hears it from me," Martinez said.

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