Aspen hospital requires English speakers |

Aspen hospital requires English speakers

Eben Harrell

ASPEN – Aspen Valley Hospital’s internal directive in April mandating its employees be proficient in English sparked anger, frustration and, according to hospital officials, misunderstanding over what the hospital was trying to accomplish.The new policy, provided to The Aspen Times by the hospital, states “all employees must be able to read, write and communicate in English to ensure that Aspen Valley Hospital safety and security procedures can be followed.”The policy states certain emergency situations at the hospital require employees to speak English. Also, the policy states that new-hire orientation, in which crucial hospital safety procedures are outlined to new employees, is given in English.But one AVH employee, a Latino dishwasher, said he has no contact with patients and that it is “discriminatory” to require him to speak English with his co-workers. He said the policy unfairly targets the hospital’s Latino work force.Juan A. Rios produced an employee evaluation dated April 27 that had an underlined section that reads: “Speak English on the job, even when talking with Latino co-workers.””If I could speak perfect English I wouldn’t have this position,” Rios said through an interpreter. “I’m not dealing with patients. I’m in the kitchen. My whole department speaks Spanish. I’m worried tension will grow because of this policy.”

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