Cox Health receives funding to help sexual assault victims

Published: Dec. 17, 2019 at 7:53 PM CST
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CoxHealth has received funding to help sexual assault victims get care in the rural parts of the Ozarks.

"I was kinda embarrassed and I wasn't even going to say anything," said Wildflower.

Wildflower is a woman living on the streets of Springfield, she is also a survivor of sexual assault.

"He touched me inappropriately without my permission and thank god he wasn't aggressive and didn't finish completely," said Wildflower.

Wildflower says she was able to see a doctor after her attack, but CoxHealth Assistant Forensic Program Coordinator Brooke Batesel says many in the rural communities don't have that kind of access to care.

"In our Barton location patients were having to transfer up to 2 hours just to get an exam ," said Batesel.

This will be changing as early as 2020.

One of the grants will provide forensic education at rural hospitals teaching about human trafficking, domestic violence and child abuse, this will allow these nurses to get trained in caring for patients of sexual assault.

The other grant would allow patients to come to the Springfield Cox location if no nurse is available on sight in their hometown.

"For Barton county, this will be the first time they will be able to provide assault care at that hospital," said Batesel.

Stephanie Appleby who works with sexual assault survivors regularly says this a huge step in helping victims both mentally and physically.

"I think if you get someone in that situation and its fresh and you can deal with it the early intervention is key, absolutely, it can help reduce problems down the road," said Appleby.

Batesel says the grant will also offer clothing and comfort items to sexual assault survivors undergoing exams.

"It would allow the patient to wear something home, a snack, a water bottle, and some toiletry items so they can brush their teeth," said Batesel.