Back to Blog List

Topics/Previous Posts

  • Sep 16, 2018

A story of two caring sisters

CHA is home to 100 interpreters who provide language access for over 300,000 encounters annually

Last year, Thamar Bosse, a Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) medical interpreter, was asked to meet face-to-face with a pregnant patient, and mother of four, who needed assistance to communicate with her health care team. "I formed a deep bond with the patient and was brought into the clinic each time this mother had an appointment at CHA. On the day she gave birth, she had no family members present and I was asked to be with her throughout the delivery. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life." A few months ago, Thamar was thrilled to be with this mom and her baby at their one-year checkup, noting that everyone is quite healthy.

Twenty years ago, after graduating from college, Thamar and her sister, Nadege Abigail Kyles, immigrated together to the United States from Canada. Thamar and Abigail are from a Haitian family and spoke French, English and Haitian Creole growing up. Today, the sisters speak more than eight languages between the two of them and are medical interpreters at CHA, an academic community health system serving Cambridge, Somerville, Everett and Boston's metro-north communities.

The sisters joined extended family in Boston in the middle of the 1990's. Abigail began taking interpreting classes at North Shore Community College shortly after she was laid off during the recession. She learned to translate in Haitian Creole and French and later learned to speak Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese through volunteering in the community. She is now learning Cantonese. After completing her coursework, Abigail used her newly developed interpreting skills to interpret for a number of companies through a temp agency and was referred by a friend to CHA in 2008. Today, Abigail is a Haitian Creole and French medical interpreter at CHA Cambridge Hospital.

One afternoon last winter, Abigail received an urgent call from a social worker at CHA who was requesting assistance interpreting her interaction with a homeless Haitian patient in need of resources in the community. "The man was at a shelter but required additional food and clothing. Temperatures that evening were predicted to drop drastically and he did not have proper winter apparel," explained Abigail. She quickly researched walking directions online to nearest Community Action Agency and remained on the phone with the patient to help navigate him to the location. "Every day we try to put ourselves in our patient's shoes and go the extra mile to connect them to services. It's rewarding knowing we can affect change in each patient interaction, " said Abigail.

Thamar arrived at CHA in 2016 after spending most of her career as an administrative assistant than later as a personal trainer and fitness coach in communities around Boston. "I injured my back pretty badly a few years ago and my sister Abigail encouraged me to pursue a career in medical interpreting," said Thamar. She completed her training at Cross Cultural Communication Systems, Inc. and is a Haitian Creole and French medical. Thamar is hopeful to add Italian to her language abilities in the near future.

The sisters feel profoundly connected to patient care. "Our job is to try to minimize language barriers between health care teams and patients. Once our patients understand what is going on around them, in the hospital or clinic setting, outcomes immediately shift," noted Abigail. Outside of their roles at CHA, Thamar and Abigail are deeply involved in their communities and volunteer at places of worship around Boston. CHA is a unique organization that celebrates the individuality of its employees, patients and communities. It is home to 100 interpreters who provide language access for over 300,000 encounters annually. 

This articles provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

Back to Blog List

Affiliated with:
Teaching hospital of: