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Centegra joins sexual assault awareness campaign

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and Centegra Health System supports the campaign that focuses on everyone speaking up to prevent sexual violence in neighborhoods, communities, work places and schools.The 2011 national Sexual Assault Awareness Month effort explores common, everyday behaviors and offers individuals viable, responsible ways to intervene. This primary prevention approach helps to create environments where people are safe in their relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, work places and communities.

This year’s campaign, “It’s time to get involved,”  incorporates a bystander approach to sexual violence prevention. A bystander, or witness, is anyone who sees a situation but may or may not know what to do, may think others will act or may be afraid to do something. Research shows that engaging bystanders is a promising way to help prevent the widespread problem of sexual violence in communities.

Centegra’s emergency department Associates are trained to identify and handle sexual assault cases. They also work closely with local organizations that specialize in sexual assault incidents.One such organization is VOICE, a division of the Pioneer Center that works toward ending sexual violence and to alleviate the victim’s suffering. They provide information, resources and support necessary to help victims become survivors and move through a crisis to development and pursuit of their goals. Emergency department staff calls a VOICE advocate to be with a victim to provide information and support during medical exams and evidence collection, as well as information pertaining to follow-up care. VOICE’s obligation is with the victim and advocates are available to provide information so a victim can make informed decisions about medical treatment and evidence collection.

In fiscal year 2010, Centegra Hospital-McHenry emergency staff treated 13 sexually assaulted patients in 18-year-olds or older and nine patients age 17 or younger. Emergency staff at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock treated 10 patients for sexual assault in 18-year-olds or older and five cases in 17-year-olds or younger. The Woodstock team also treated 27 cases of domestic violence and the McHenry team treated 28. Both hospitals show an increase in sexual assault cases so far in fiscal year 2011.

To speak to someone about counseling, education or for more information, call (815) 759-7066. To speak to someone about medical and legal advocacy, call (815) 759-7055.For more information on Centegra Health System search Centegra Health System on Facebook or Twitter or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).