By law, hospitals and even small private practices that receive federal funds such as Medicaid are required to provide language assistance. But only a handful of suburban facilities use trained interpreters, while most others rely on a patchwork of makeshift methods to communicate with non-English-speaking patients. All but 26 clinics offer at least one of the following services:

Source: The Chicago Reporter survey of 200 health care facilities, conducted from May through August. The Illinois Department of Public Health licenses 59 hospitals and 35 outpatient surgery centers that operate within suburban Cook County, and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The Reporter contacted all 94 facilities for this story; 52 hospitals and 22 surgery centers responded. The Reporter also surveyed 126 community clinics for a total of 200 facilities. The clinics were picked from telephone listings since no official list was available.