As of Friday, December 22, 2017
One Community Health’s (OCH) Kristen Foskett, a certified family nurse practitioner, has recently teamed up with Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center (CGCAC) to help provide qualified child abuse screenings, specialized sexual assault screenings, and support services at the center, located in Hood River.
Foskett, who already works full time at OCH in The Dalles, is now dedicating her Mondays to CGCAC. There, she is applying her expertise as a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to deliver pediatric sex assault examiner services to children and teens from throughout Wasco, Hood River, Gilliam and Wheeler counties.
“I’m really excited to be stepping into this role,” said Foskett. “CGCAC lost its medical provider in January 2017, and it’s been really hard in terms of getting children and teens the care they need and, in particular, doing it quickly, which is as soon as possible after an incident occurs.”
According to Beatriz Lynch, CGCAC’s executive director, emergency room doctors and many other providers in the Columbia River Gorge typically won’t take child abuse or sexual assault patients. Because these providers may not have the credentials or experience for diagnosis or treatment, most of them, with a few exceptions, feel uncomfortable with even taking a look at these children. While Lynch said some local doctors and the health care teams at OCH have been gracious about seeing some of the children that have come into CGCAC, the void in consistent care for these patients is very real.
“Most have ended up at Randall Children’s Hospital or CARES Northwest, the child abuse response and evaluation service provided under Randall Children’s Hospital —and yet we have so many great doctors right here in the Gorge,” she said. “What we would love is for more medical providers like Foskett to partner regularly with CGCAC. We will happily create a schedule that works for them and provide training and support. For example, CARES Northwest collaborates with CGCAC regularly, answering questions, providing resources and giving guidance. They are there for us whenever we call or need advice.”
Right now, CGCAC’s cry for help is louder than ever. When it comes to child abuse, the late fall and early winter months tend to be the biggest for reporting. With school in full swing, there are simply more eyes on children so mandatory reporting goes up in the fall months. But holiday stress also amplifies the prevalence of domestic violence, which all too frequently results in child abuse.
“In 2016, we had 73 cases … but we’ve already seen over 90 children and teens since the beginning of 2017,” said Lynch. “Given the rise in need, and in spite of Foskett’s help, we remain stretched really thin. We need more providers to join us and help. Now and beyond the holidays, our goal is to give these kids a sense of hope, and that starts with having a safe place like CGCAC that’s near home and where you can quickly connect with a caring, trusted provider.”
One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, Federally Qualified Health Center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River.
The Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center (CGCAC) strives to reduce trauma to child abuse victims through effective evaluation and advocacy in a secure, healing environment. Based in Hood River, CGCAC serves children and teenagers throughout Wasco, Hood River, Gillian and Wheeler counties and works closely with various local and state partners and agencies to coordinate the community’s response. Key services offered by CGCAC include, but are not limited to: interviews of suspected victims of child abuse; medical evaluations; mental health treatment referrals; and provision and coordination of other victim services. A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, CGCAC seeks and relies on the support of local businesses, and grants from other organizations, corporations and individuals and foundations, as well as funding from city, county and state governments.