Submitted by Providence Swedish
To Providence Swedish, “Health for a Better World” means having a positive impact on the health and well-being of our communities through action and community investment. Consistent with our Mission, Providence Swedish is dedicated to identifying and supporting community health needs. At Providence Swedish, Community Benefit funding plays a crucial role in helping improve the well-being of the communities we serve.
One area of service that receives Community Benefit support is the Providence Abuse Intervention Center located in Lacey. This program aligns with the Providence Swedish South Puget Sound Community Health Assessment in terms of both access to care and health equity. In 2022, Providence Swedish Community Benefit investment for the Abuse Intervention Center totaled more than $1.3 million. The Community Benefit funding goes towards the costs of operating the center and the services we provide.
Promoting Justice and Well-Being for the Most Vulnerable
The Providence Abuse Intervention Center is part of a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center, which is a national model for how to best serve children who have experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect or maltreatment. Children are referred to our medical clinic by law enforcement personnel, social workers from the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), or any medical professional. Our clinic serves the five counties of Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor and Pacific and collaborates with Indian Child Welfare and tribal communities.
Our clinic receives about 600 referrals each year. Approximately 350 of those children receive in-person services on an urgent or emergent basis. Children might have a forensic interview (requested by law enforcement and conducted by a specially trained interviewer to obtain the information that will assist in the investigation and prosecution of a crime), a medical interview and thorough medical examination, and trauma-based counseling. Our clinic has three specially trained facility dogs – Astro, Daze and Coco – to ensure the children feel safe and calm during their visit.
“I am proud that we impact children’s and families’ lives and that we change the trajectory of a child’s life with the services we provide,” says Dr. Joyce Gilbert, medical director of the Providence Abuse Intervention Center.
Our clinic’s multi-disciplinary team includes medical personnel, special victim’s prosecutors, law enforcement, DCYF, forensic interviewers, social workers, and counselors. This multidisciplinary team works together to support the child through the entire process.
“Every single person we work with is completely passionate and dedicated to this work. It’s a job people choose because they are invested in taking care of those who’ve been through trauma,” says Heather Mcleod, Nurse Practitioner and Forensic Nurse Examiner supervisor. “Not only are we serving the community, but we also work as a team with the community.”
The Providence Abuse Intervention Center also houses the Forensic Nurse Examiner program. This team of specially trained nurses provides medical forensic exams in the emergency departments at Providence St. Peter and Centralia hospitals, and Madigan Army Medical Center to adults and adolescents who have experienced a recent sexual assault or strangulation.
Investing in Resilience
Community Benefit refers to positive contributions and support provided by individuals, organizations, or businesses to address community needs and challenges as well as enhance the well-being of the community they serve. It is one way Providence Swedish fulfills its charitable purpose as a not-for-profit health system.
Every three years, Providence Swedish South Puget Sound conducts a community health needs assessment to identify what help is needed in our local communities. From that, Providence Swedish develops a community health improvement plan that identifies the ways in which the hospitals will invest in those needs. The allocation of funding is critical to ensuring resources are used effectively to benefit the community.
Child advocacy centers are crucial for protecting and supporting children who have experienced abuse or trauma. For this reason, Providence Swedish continues to invest in this community health program to ensure that child survivors continue to have access to services and support when they need it most.
The Providence Abuse Intervention Center received the Distinguished Service Award at the Thurston County Chamber and the Thurston-Mason County Medical Society’s annual Health Care Champions banquet. Watch this YouTube video to learn more about the critical work done by the Abuse Intervention Center.