Case Studies

Providence St. Peter Hospital - Providence St. Peter Sexual Assault Clinic and Child Maltreatment Center

Olympia, WA

Founded in 1991, Providence St. Peter Hospital Sexual Assault Clinic and Child Maltreatment Center provides medical services to children and adults who are victims of sexual or physical abuse. The clinic is the only facility of its kind in the region and receives patient referrals from law enforcement, Child Protective Services and medical providers. Each year, the Sexual Assault Clinic serves more than 350 patients and their families from its five surrounding counties. The clinic also works with Indian Child Welfare and tribal communities.

“Child maltreatment” describes multiple types of abuse, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological maltreatment. Untreated, these types of abuse can lead to a wide variety of physical disease and emotional disorders. This has been studied and described in the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Studies, as well as numerous scientific studies over the past 10 years documenting the effects of trauma on the brain development of children. However, appropriate intervention and treatment can improve the long-term outcome for victims.

The clinic has long been an innovative leader. It was the first in the state to create a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, providing victim-centered, compassionate emergency services to victims of acute sexual assault directly in the Emergency Centers in three local hospitals. Clinic staff members often serve as expert witnesses when these cases go to trial. The clinic has provided education and technical support to other hospitals in the state that wish to implement similar programs.

The program staff also offer training in child sexual abuse prevention. This program, “Stewards of Children,” is produced by the national organization Darkness to Light. Classes are offered several times a year, free of charge for anyone who would like to attend.

In its 25 years of operation, the St. Peter Sexual Assault Clinic and Child Maltreatment Center has provided support, assistance and compassion to more than 7,000 victims.

Lessons Learned
The first step in acknowledging, treating, and improving the lives of abused children is through trained medical and social work intervention. This team has become acutely aware of the value of education and early intervention for prevention.

Future Goals
The program’s strategic plan includes an increasing emphasis on prevention, and the team actively works to expand and enhance its current prevention education efforts. Out of critical necessity, there will remain a focus on continually securing funding to ensure the program’s sustainability and ability to provide crucial services to community families.

Contact: Angela Maki
Director, Community & Executive Relations
Providence Health & Services
Telephone: 360-493-7907

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