New partnership brings care for sexual assault victims to Oxford

Oxford County residents who have been the victim of sexual assault will no longer have to leave their community to get the specialized care they need.

Oxford County Community Health Centre (OCCHC) and the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program (RSADVTP) of St. Joseph’s Health Care London announced a new partnership Monday to deliver follow-up care in the county east of London.

Under the agreement, believed to be the first of its kind in Ontario, St. Joseph’s regional treatment program will provide consultation services to OCCHC on follow up care for victims of sexual assault. The care at OCCHC will be delivered by doctors, nurses, and social workers.

“This partnership addresses a long-standing barrier to care in Oxford County for those seeking support for sexual assault,” OCCHC Executive Director Randy Peltz said in a statement. “It means that the OCCHC can serve as an extension of selected services typically only provided at RSADVTP, including ongoing documentation and treatment of injuries, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infection.”

The new partnership is meant to complement sexual assault services currently provided by Oxford Sexual Assault Services (OSAS) at the OCCHC. This includes risk management, case-management, counselling, psychotherapy, and advocacy.
Currently, OCCHC provides sexual violence survivors with access to outreach, housing stability programming, rapid access addiction medicine, physiotherapy, primary care, and nursing.

Sexual assault victims will still have to go to St. Joseph’s regional program if they want forensic evidence collection, in which a specially trained nurse collects evidence of the attack and provides expertise as a witness in any case that goes to court. After that is completed, Oxford residents can then choose to transfer to the OCCHC for follow-up care.

“Disclosing sexual assault or domestic violence is extremely difficult and often frightening. Anyone who comes into our program is offered to be followed medically at Oxford County Community Health Centre psychologically, emotionally and/or spiritually for six months post an assault,” said Cassandra Fisher, coordinator of the RSADVTP. “We want to ensure everyone is able to access this follow-up care regardless of where they live.”

In the past, barriers around travel and transportation have prevented sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in Oxford from receiving the care they require, officials said.

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