Sofia Morales was a young woman who lived in Atlanta, Georgia.
She worked in a factory and studied at a community college.
She had recently moved to the US and spoke Spanish as her primary language, but tried practicing English with classmates in the evenings - mostly through a group text chat - when she felt motivated.
One morning, Sofia woke up and noticed that her left wrist was hurting and that there was a lump there.
She had felt the pain before, but it was the large lump that had her worried.
“Could this be a tumor?” she wondered aloud, as she picked up the phone to make an appointment to have it checked out.
A few days later, Sofia went to see her primary care physician, who examined her wrist.
With the help of a Spanish language interpreter, her doctor reassured her that it was most likely a ganglion cyst and not a tumor.
Her doctor also suggested that she get the cyst surgically removed and set up an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.
Sofia went home feeling relieved that it wasn’t a bone tumor, and was glad that it would get removed.
Two weeks went by - and Sofia went with her younger sister to visit the orthopedic surgeon.
Dr. Margo, an orthopedic surgeon, who examined Sofia’s wrist and agreed that she needed to have the cyst removed.
Dr. Margo didn’t have an interpreter with her, and was in a rush to get back to the operating room so she asked her teammate, Dr. Alex Hammond, to take over.
The conversation was quick “Spanish-speaking woman, wrist surgery - cyst removal.
You got it?”
“Yep, wrist surgery, got it.” Dr. Hammond responded.
"She's in room 2.
Get the consent and schedule the procedure, thanks so much!” she trailed off as she walked away.
Dr. Hammond was feeling overwhelmed.
He was hoping to wrap up some clinic notes and wanted to get to the post-operative unit to see another patient, but now he had to take care of one more thing.
It had been a stressful day.
He hasn’t had time for breakfast or lunch and his stomach was reminding him that it was 4pm.
He went in to room 2.
“Hello - I’m the orthopedic surgeon Dr. Hammond, I’m here to help you get set up for your carpal tunnel release procedure.
Dr. Margo has filled me in and I’ll be doing the procedure.”
Sofia stared blankly not understanding a word.
He gathered himself “Do you speak English?”