Sign requesting 'English speaking only' at Texas clinic raises eyebrows

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA / WFAA-TV

WFAA

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 1:01 AM

FARMERS BRANCH -- Inside a north Texas kidney dialysis facility is a sign that caught a visitor by surprise.

It reads "English Speaking only beyond this point: Unless you are translating for a patient..... [sic]"

The facility is operated by Fresenius, one of the largest dialysis providers in the nation. We've learned the sign is posted in a non-public area, directed at company employees.

“In Farmers Branch, you expect something like that,” said Carlos Quintanilla with Action America, a Latino activist group.

In a community with a large Spanish-speaking population, Quintanilla is confused about what the sign is trying to say.

“Spanish is almost a very viable language here in Texas," he said. "You'd think as good business people, you'd want to embrace this community that's growing.”

Thursday afternoon, we contacted Fresenius Medical Care and they responded to our inquiry about the sign with a statement.

"We value the diversity of our workforce,” wrote Jon Stone, spokesman for the company. He said it comes down to creating a consistent work environment.

“It is important for safety, patient care, efficiency and supervision that our staff use a common language in the area where patients are treated," Stone wrote. "For this reason, the treatment floor is the only area in our facilities where we ask our staff to use English in their communication."

The company went on to say staff can speak another language with a patient if the person speaks little-to-no English.

Clearly, this sign didn't and couldn’t say all that. But in a city that has had continued conflict with the Latino community, it can be important to clarify.

“Someone needs to tell them there's a better way to get that message out,” Quintanilla said.
 

Fresenius’ full company statement
 
"We value the diversity of our workforce and encourage all employees to respect different cultural values, customs and languages that co-workers bring into the workplace. It’s important for safety, patient care, efficiency and supervision that our staff  use a common language in the area where patients are treated.  For this reason, the treatment floor is the only area in our facilities where we ask our staff to use English in their communication. During the course of the workday, our employees can speak with patients in the treatment areas in their native languages when those patients have no or limited knowledge of English. Languages other than English may also be used in break rooms and any other areas outside of the treatment floor." - Jon Stone, Fresenius Spokesman.

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