Covenant HealthCare opens Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Area - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Covenant HealthCare opens Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Area

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SAGINAW (WJRT) - (05/13/14) - It's a peaceful place to go on what is likely the worst day of a person's life.

We're talking about an area dedicated to caring for victims of sexual assault at a Saginaw hospital.

At first glance, it might look like a typical hospital room, but it is really much more.

"Very secure, very serene area that, that lends some semblance of peace," said Carol Cottrell, with the Covenant HealthCare Foundation.

Covenant HealthCare calls it the Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Area. It's designed to privately treat people who have been sexually assaulted.

"When somebody does come forward, that's a huge step because what they're saying is a horrific thing happened to me and I was violated," said Margie Bach, with Child and Family Services, also in Saginaw.

Many victims first come to the busy Emergency Care Center.

"And to feel that other patients and their families are going, 'Why are the police going in that room, what's going on, what did that person do?" Cottrell said.

That concern is now eliminated with this exam room, interview room and bathroom that makes up the Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Area.

Unfortunately, it will be needed more than you might think.

"Last year, in regards to examinations, we did over 60," Bach said.

Those are just the cases reported to Child and Family Services.

Bach added that they also offered free counseling to more than 2,000 people.

The CAN Council will also use the space, especially while its facility is renovated and expanded this summer.

"We see nearly 600 children, and it is traumatic. People need to feel that number for just a moment. That's typically the size of maybe an elementary school," said Suzanne Greenberg, the president and CEO of the CAN Council.

From the physical exam to the interview, what happens in this area may ultimately help police find those responsible and help the prosecutor put them behind bars.

"We're just very pleased that we can offer this to the community, and the sad thing is we wish we didn't have to, we wish there weren't a need for it. Since there is, we want to provide the best possible space for victims, in the worst possible for circumstances," Cottrell said.

The Covenant HealthCare Foundation raised $30,000 in donations to make the assistance area possible.

It opened in late April and has been used once already.
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