The Bay Area Hospital is pleased to announce the transition of the Child Abuse Intervention Center from an Advocacy Model to a Medical Model to benefit the children on the South Coast.

Child Abuse statistics for our County and the State of Oregon are astounding and many of these cases are never reported. In 2011 in Oregon, according to the Department of Human Services, there were 74,342 child abuse reports, and 11,599 unduplicated child abuse victims. The number of reports and victims in the last 10 years has increased by 85%. Family members account for 94.6 percent of all alleged abusers.

One of the valuable services available in our community for children who have been abused has been the Child Abuse Intervention Center. At the Center, children who may have been abused are interviewed in a “kid friendly” environment to determine if they have been victims of abuse and to help obtain for them the services they need to overcome the abuse and associated trauma. Last year in our county, 213 children were interviewed and received services through the Center. We know that most abuse goes unreported.

For several years the Women’s Safety and Resource Center has been the parent organization for the Center. That organization agreed to manage the Center when Coos County could no longer fund the Center. When Paul Frasier became District Attorney in 2008, he began looking at the Center to see if there were ways to improve the services for the children of our County. The Center was originally founded on what is sometimes referred to as the “prosecution model.” In that model, the primary focus is to obtain the necessary information to hold the abuser responsible for what was done to the child. While important, it is a fact that many offenders are never prosecuted. Whether or not this occurs, the children need services.

In Centers all across the country, another model is being used with greater collaboration and success. This is referred to as a “medical model.” In that model, the physical and emotional welfare of the child comes first. Prosecution becomes second. Children coming to a medically based Center receive medical examinations and treatment if needed. Their emotional state is evaluated and if need be, counseling is obtained. If possible, evidence is gathered that could assist in prosecuting the offender. But the emphasis is to get the abused child help and to make sure the abused child is safe. That is the primary goal.

To have a true medically based program, medical providers need to be heavily involved in the Center. To that end, Bay Area Hospital has agreed to become the program sponsor for our Center and to have the Center be based on the medical and emotional needs of the child in a child-friendly environment.

Prosecution is still very important in each of these cases. There is a multidisciplinary team who evaluates and provides these children with the resources to overcome the trauma of being abused. All of us who serve on the multidisciplinary team that includes law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, DHS, hospital, local clinics and other local support services thank the Women’s Resource & Safety Center for stepping up when it appeared we may lose the Center entirely. We thank Bay Area Health Hospital for their support and beginning July 1, 2013 the management of the Center.

Bay Area Hospital is excited to have this important community service become a part of the full range of services provided to our South Coast residents. It aligns with the hospital mission “to improve the health of our community every day.” It is the desire of Bay Area Hospital to increase not only the emergency response services as a result of child abuse but an increased focus on prevention and education.