ALBANY -- Since opening its doors a year ago, MAMI has trained 26 medical interpreters. It's been a slow start, but leaders of the Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters are not discouraged. The office gets about 25 requests for interpretation jobs each month.

Yijuan Lin, MAMI's regional manager who helped start an office in Syracuse in 2006, said they had fewer requests there during the first few years. The nonprofit MAMI also has a training center in Utica, which, along with Syracuse, is where its graduates perform much of the language interpretation services needed at local hospitals and health centers.

Today, Syracuse handles 800 to 900 requests a month.

"The more the providers know us, they more they want to use us," said Lin, who is in charge of the Albany office now.

So far, their biggest customers are St. Peter's Hospital and Catholic Charities AIDS Services. MAMI has reached out to Albany Medical Center, but has been unable to get a meeting there, officials said.

"Maybe they are worried about the cost of interpreting services. Maybe they use the telephone in all cases and they are happy with it," said Cornelia Brown, MAMI's founder.

Brown said telephone interpreting services are more cost effective up to 15 minutes, but after 15 minutes, the in-person service is the equivalent or cheaper.

Interpreters are trained to be accurate, neutral and confidential.

The group is hopeful that work for interpreters will increase in 2012 because, under the New York State-adopted 2012-13 budget, Medicaid will now cover the cost of interpretation services in hospitals.

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