Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A tremendous loss

Sister Ann McGuinn, hospital pioneer, dies at 83
She is missed.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This county has lost tremendously with her passing. She was the patron saint of the SART team and for all issues involving children including abuse and neglect. She made sure her hospital subsidized the SART program, offered placement for month meetings for the CAST program, did her utmost to support the child dental program and was acutely active in issues involving domestic abuse.

At her going away/retirement party from St. Joes she cried when she talked about the descimation of the CAST program.

Shame on you Gallegos.

Rose said...

For those who don't know, SART is the Sexual Assault Response Team. CAST is the Child Abuse Services Team.

Before SART was proposed and developed, rape victims - women, children, and sometimes men - who were raped were brought in to the Emergency Room, left sitting in the hallway with all the other ER patrons, waiting to be seen. Having just suffered unimaginable trauma, the rape victims were then put into an exam room, interviewed by different people, answering the same questions over and over again, examined by doctors who had no special training to deal with sexual assault victims, no particular knowledge of the type of forensic evidence needed, in the Emergency Room with no privacy, no counselor, no nothing.

Three people saw the need for a better way, Sister Ann of St. Joseph's hospital, Rob Wade from the D.A.'s Office and Dave Parris from EPD.

Together they got together and developed protocol for handling these victims, with compassion, and with full support services designed to help minimize the trauma and ensure proper gathering of forensic evidence... people from all departments on call, (law enforcement, the D.A.'s Office, rape crisis) a special room set aside in a private area, rape crisis counselors there to help guide the victim through the process, and help ease the pain and trauma, officers and doctors with special training in interviewing and evidence gathering.

Designed to help the victims through a very difficult time, the room was equipped with a bag of clothes - sweatpants, shoes, t-shirts, etc because the victims often had to leave their clothes as evidence. Small details, but important. Just one example.

Then, a couple of years later, the question of how best to handle child abuse victims came up and a multi-disciplinary team with special training in interviewing techniques and evidence gathering. was formed and CAST, the Child Abuse Services Team, was born.

Before CAST was developed, children would be interviewed by a series of people, all asking different kinds of questions, with different criteria, police officers, the D.A.'s Office, then CWS, doctors, nurses, etc. Evidence was often lost, or not acquired at all.

With the development of the CAST program, the whole process became victim-centered, again with specially trained people from all departments on call, including mental health counselors for kids and their parents.

It was a new era in law enforcement, one geared towards victims rights, and on easing the pain of going through the terrifying judicial system.

CAST is now on its last legs, no longer has a Child Interview Specialist, the team is not allowed to keep the office open, anyone calling hte office gets an answering machine. Gallegos has destroyed it.