Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Client News: WellSpan Partnership for Sexually Abused Children Earns Award

Source: Around WellSpan Online

Staff members from York Hospital and the York County Children’s Advocacy Center (YCCAC) were on hand to accept the Nonprofit Innovation Award. They are, from left to right, Rebecca Sanstead, Deborah Harrison, Tracy Hunter, R.N., Emily Huggins, R.N., Debbie Levin, R.N., Ivy Schneider and David Turkewitz, M.D.

A WellSpan partnership with the York County Children's Advocacy Center has earned an award for innovation.
Through the partnership, WellSpan Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) nurses examine suspected child abuse victims at two regional independent centers.
The partnership won the Collaboration category at the 12th annual Nonprofit Innovation Awards, presented by Highmark Blue Shield and the Central Penn Business Journal.
Sexual abuse of children is a widespread but little-discussed problem across the country. A 2006 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that one in four girls, and one in six boys, are sexually abused before the age of 18.
“If sexual abuse was an infectious disease, it would be considered epidemic,” said David Turkewitz, M.D., chairman of Pediatrics and director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at York Hospital.
Turkewitz has maintained a career focus on the care of child abuse victims and the prevention of child abuse. In addition to his WellSpan duties, he oversees pediatric care provided by the SAFE team at York Hospital and serves as medical director of the Children’s Advocacy Centers in York and Adams counties.
The two advocacy centers are independent community organizations that are accredited by the National Children’s Alliance  By focusing on the child’s developmental, emotional, physical and cognitive needs, Children’s Advocacy Centers are able to: reduce the stress of the evaluation; facilitate linking the child and supportive adults to behavioral support services; and increase the likelihood of bringing perpetrators of child abuse to justice.
Since opening in 2006, the Children’s Advocacy Centers in York and Adams counties have only been able to offer a medical evaluation to a small minority of children. The problem was exceedingly few health professionals have the specialized abilities needed to properly conduct the medical evaluations.
All this changed last year with the implementation of a unique SAFE coverage model that now provides the ability to offer medical evaluations to all children seen at the two advocacy centers.
In order to do so, York Hospital SAFE nurse team leader Emily Huggins along with additional members of the York Hospital SAFE team and Jennifer McNew, the Gettysburg Hospital SAFE team pediatric leader, completed additional pediatric training coupled with 100 percent review of pediatric cases to achieve the level of expertise required for this expanded role.

“We want all kids impacted by abuse to have access to a medical examination,” said SAFE program manager Huggins, who performs exams at the York County Children’s Advocacy Center.
McNew commented that most sexually abused children have unremarkable genital exams and this is a relief to children and parents. “The most important part of the medical exam is to assure the child that their body is still normal, despite what happened to them,” she said.
Both York and Adams County Children’s Advocacy Centers are monitoring the success of this collaboration.
Currently, the percent of sexually abused children receiving a medical exam has increased from 11 percent to 70 percent in Adams County and 15 percent to 51 percent in York County.

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