Centers of Hope Provide Treatment, Advocacy for Sexual Assault Victims in Northwest Indiana

rot6A Center of Hope program developed in 2002 at Franciscan St. Margaret Health to provide care for victims of sexual assault has expanded to sister hospitals in Crown Point and Michigan City.

Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City and its Chesterton Health and Emergency Center, recently undertook the program, according to Janet Doms, Franciscan Alliance regional director of emergency services.

"The expansion of services ensures victims will receive compassionate care from specially trained staff in an area designed to meet their needs when they present to any of the hospital's emergency departments," Doms said.

Care is coordinated between nursing and medical staff members, patient advocacy representatives, and law enforcement to reduce the number of times a victim must repeat the traumatic details of the event.

There are 24 sexual assault nurse examiners in the Northern Indiana Region who have received specialized training to perform forensic examinations and to collect forensic evidence for victims of sexual assault, Doms said. Training requires 40 hours of classroom education and additional supervised clinical hours to ensure skill proficiency and a certification examination to verify competency.

Training also provides the nurse with skills needed to not only care for victims, but to obtain and secure evidence for prosecution of perpetrators.

"In 2013, our hospitals provided care for 108 adult victims of sexual assault. The program is currently limited to adult victims but will be expanding in the near future to include pediatric victims," Doms said.

For more information, call Michelle Resendez, regional coordinator, at (219) 757-6021.