Very likely, the problem has to do with how the font used for that text was encoded within the PDF file when the PDF file was created. Standard encodings were most likely not used.
So here is my issue.
I flew to Colombia in order to get medical records for a child that was severely burned (Shirners is going to operate on the child free of charge). They gave me the records on a thumb drive. How can I fix this? The hospitals records department doesn't have a phone.
I need to convert the file in order to translate it.
If the conversion to Word is messed up due to the encoding, try copy and paste from the PDF file directly into an empty Word document. That may work.
If that doesn't work, another possibility would be, if you are running under Windows with Acrobat, to print to the Adobe PDF PostScript printer driver and create a new PDF file from the old one. That might straighten out the encoding.
Let us know if one or the other of these solves your problem.
As Dov indicated, this is a font problem, and there is nothing you can do with the PDF file as it is to extract text.
In order to get information out of these files, I would export the pages of these documents to high resolution TIFF images (e.g. 600dpi), and then import these TIFF images back into Acrobat. Now you can run OCR, which will then in turn allow you to export the contents as e.g. a Word document.