St. Joseph Mercy Livingston saves program for sexual assault victims

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St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital recently donated $40,000 to LACASA’s Sexual Assault Response Center, which will enable the program to continue operating in Livingston County.

“St. Joseph Mercy Livingston literally saved our program, which serves sexual assault victims and survivors from our community,” said LACASA’s President & CEO Bobette Schrandt.

LACASA’s response center is staffed by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) nurses, explained Schrandt. “Recent state funding cuts threatened our ability to cover the costs of our part-time Nurse Manager and our on-call nurse examiners. The program would have closed without the generosity of St. Joe’s.”

The Sexual Assault Response Center at LACASA provides forensic examinations for rape victims and collects evidence for rape kits. Specially-trained nurse examiners perform the exams and provide treatment and follow-up services for victims and survivors.

“When we refer a victim to LACASA, we know they will receive care from a specially-trained team of sexual assault experts,” said Robert Fields, M.D., medical director of Emergency Services at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. “LACASA also can offer a continuum of care that includes follow-up counseling and support services.”

LACASA provides individual counseling, support groups and legal advocacy services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape. Victims also may choose to stay at the nonprofit’s Crisis Shelter to recover following an assault.

The services at LACASA’s Sexual Assault Response Center are confidential and provided at no charge. “Unlike at a public facility, medical insurers are never involved here,” said Schrandt. “The victim’s identity is protected and their care is private and confidential.”

LACASA continues its “Call Us First” campaign throughout the community. Sexual assault victims are encouraged to call LACASA first following an assault, which will enable the agency to coordinate all aspects of the victim’s treatment and care.

“We are fortunate that we are able to work in unison with the local police departments, county sheriff’s office, prosecutor’s office, and the hospital to coordinate not only the care of victims, but also to support their decisions regarding the legal process,” Schrandt said.

Livingston County falls in line with the national statistics on crimes of sexual assault, said Schrandt.

“One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime,” she said. “The majority of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.”

In addition to providing services for sexual assault victims and survivors, LACASA offers a number of community-wide sexual assault awareness and prevention programs.

“Livingston County is fortunate to have the hospital and LACASA working together to provide compassionate care for sexual assault victims,” said John O’Malley, president, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. “We will be working closely with LACASA throughout this partnership.” Recently, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Development Director, Kathryn A. Rusak, joined LACASA’s Board of Directors.

“It is inspiring that the hospital recognizes the benefits of our SANE program and is enthusiastic about supporting this critical service,” Schrandt said.

“Not all communities have a program designed specifically for sexual assault victims,” said Schrandt. “Livingston County is fortunate that not only victims, but their families and friends who have been affected by the assault, can receive the support and counseling they need in a confidential setting.”

Victims and survivors of sexual assault or rape can contact the Sexual Assault Response Center 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-week, by calling LACASA’s Help Line at (866) 522-2725.

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