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Nursing Students Translate COVID-19 Handbook into Spanish

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Reading medical book in patient ward

AUSTIN, Texas — Two bilingual University of Texas at Austin students are volunteering to translate and distribute COVID-19 health information to Spanish-speaking communities, bridging a critical information gap during the pandemic.

Daniel Suárez-Baquero, a Colombian licensed nurse, wanted to assist the Texas health care community in fighting the coronavirus. However, without a license from the state, he was prevented from patient interactions. Frustrated, he turned to his professional nursing chapter through the National University of Colombia. There, he learned his home country was suffering from a different set of issues — an information crisis.

“There is a lot of information out there in English and Chinese to assist health care providers fighting the spread of the virus, but there are very few resources in Spanish,” said Suárez-Baquero, a doctoral student with UT Austin’s School of Nursing. “So our job was to search the internet for any information that could help. I found the handbook through Zhejiang University in China. It had already been translated into English. I shared it with our coordinator, and we began translating it to Spanish right away.”

A panel of experts through Zhejiang University’s First Affiliated Hospital compiled the “Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment,” summarizing firsthand clinical experience of how to diagnose, screen and treat COVID-19 patients, with a particular emphasis on nursing interventions. It is now available for free online to assist the worldwide health care community.

Suárez-Baquero’s team recruited Oscar Rocha, a research fellow with the School of Nursing. Within 24 hours, they completed a translation. After two days of editing, they emailed the translation to every hospital and clinic nurse coordinator in Colombia and beyond, including Spanish-speaking communities in Austin.

“I am so proud to see Daniel and Oscar take the initiative to put their talents where it was most needed,” said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the School of Nursing. “The handbook is already proving an invaluable resource for many health care providers, some who live and work in smaller and more rural areas with limited accessibility to the latest technology and equipment to fight COVID-19.”

Since sharing the handbook, Suárez-Baquero continues to receive requests from clinicians asking for more translated information to better prepare for higher rates of infection while securing the safety of their staff. In all, Suárez-Baquero says this experience has better shaped his understanding of the roles nurses play in health care.

“Nursing can change the world. We need to realize that leadership is fundamental in nursing in order to save lives, to improve health care and to support nursing worldwide.”