CoxHealth Receives $600,000 Grant to Serve Victims of Sexual Assault

by: Jesse Inman, Ozarks First

CoxHealth receives a $600,000 grant to better serve victims of sexual assaults.

CoxHealth plans to use the grant money on rural communities, and the victims they aren’t able to provide forensic services for right now.

Those on the front lines of victim services are satisfied with what CoxHealth will be able to provide.

“It is a very traumatic event for an individual who has experienced such a crime,” said executive director of The Victims Center, Brandi Bartel.

In an instant, a sexual assault or domestic violence situation can be life-changing. Bartel, says that often times their first contact with a person comes in their darkest hour.

“We work directly with victims in the hospital setting, in the emergency rooms typically to assist them in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault of other types of violent crime,” Bartel said. “The individuals need a lot of emotional support. They need resources.”

In Springfield, those resources are there, but it’s not that simple everywhere.

“Once you start to get into more rural communities, it is harder for victims to access those services,” Bartel said.

Thanks to a $600,000 grant, CoxHealth is working to bring that help to more victims in need.

“This grant is going to specifically help our rural sites, which are traditionally not as well-staffed, not as well resourced as our larger community in Springfield,” Lana Garcia, the forensic program coordinator at CoxHealth said.

She says the nurses who provide the forensic tests for victims require additional training, and this grant provides it.

“We’re going to deliver an eight-hour forensic class to staff so that allows them to have a better identification of medical-legal documentation, assessment and injury identification, and evidence collection,” Bartel said.

120 nurses will receive that Sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE training. Brooke Batesel is the assistant coordinator for the forensic program, she says the grant also covers a telehealth system, just in case a SANE nurse isn’t on hand.

“They’ll connect with a SANE nurse here in Springfield at our hub, so we’re able to offer the highest level of care 24/7 to any patient that presents to any of the CoxHealth facilities,” Batesel said.

In addition, the grant creates a sexual assault response team across five different counties made up of law enforcement, health care, crime labs and advocates to help victims.

All of this at no additional cost, this is set to go into effect early next year.

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