TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — West Alabama will have a new facility to treat sexual assault victims.
The Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program will open this fall near DCH Regional Medical Center, the Tuscaloosa News reported . Services will include medical care, follow-up counseling, specialized therapy and information about reporting options, said Kellee Reinhart, spokeswoman for the partners who established the program.
The facility will serve assault victims from all West Alabama counties.
“Providing the best quality care for those impacted by sexual assault is critical for our community,” University of Alabama System Chancellor C. Ray Hayes stated in the release. “I am proud of the collaboration and the partners that have come together to take this important step to develop a program to serve the entire West Alabama region.”
Nurses will receive specialized training to care for patients who are victims of sexual assault or abuse and to collect forensic evidence for criminal prosecutions. About 17 DCH emergency department nurses are undergoing classroom and additional clinical training. They are expected to staff the facility when the training is completed in early October.
The lack of staff with specialized training for sex assault cases at DCH became widely-discussed in Tuscaloosa in June when the case of former University of Alabama student Megan Rondini was made public. Rondini killed herself in 2016, a year after she reported to police that she was raped. Her family says that she didn’t receive the proper treatment or follow-up care, which they believe contributed to her death.
“These efforts, which began last fall, will provide community-based services to enhance the resources available to those within our local and campus communities,” University of Alabama President Stuart Bell said in the release.
Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb said that the specially-trained nurses will help with the prosecution of sexual assault cases.
“This program will assist our office in seeking justice, providing us strong evidence as we analyze and prosecute cases,” Webb said.
Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com