For many years, advocates for sexual assault victims in Northwest Arkansas discussed the need for a coordinator who could train and assist the nurse examiners who conduct most forensic exams.
When a Mercy co-worker asked Chad Raith if the health care system could help, the mission vice president’s reaction was an immediate “yes.”
“I instantly agreed because it fits so well with our heritage. It’s who we are. It harkens back to our founder Catherine McAuley’s focus on often our most vulnerable citizens, women and children,” he said.
Mercy and Raith will be honored Nov. 17 during the #MeToo Gala, an event supporting the NWA Center for Sexual Assault that is billed as “Celebrating the strength of survivors and lifting up the voices of those who support them.”
Mercy will receive the Roger Collins Beacon of Hope Award for Outstanding Survivor Support. Raith will receive special recognition for his role in establishing the sexual assault nurse examiner coordinator position at Mercy.
Raith worked with leaders of the NWA Center for Sexual Assault and Children’s Safety Center of Washington County, both in Springdale, and the Child Advocacy Center of Benton County for more than a year. In those discussions, the groups decided Mercy would employ the coordinator and the groups would donate funds to cover the coordinator salary. Mercy covers benefits of the coordinator, who became part of Mercy’s Community Health Department.
The new regional coordinator, Dawn Thompson, began work June 4 and has recruited new nurse examiners and worked to establish protocols when victims present to area clinics and hospitals, among many additional duties.
“Judging by the comments that we hear, Dawn’s work is a dream come true for these centers. It was so deeply needed,” Raith said.
Raith said he shares credit with many co-workers at Mercy, including Sister of Mercy Lisa Atkins; Dr. Lisa Low, medical director for community health; Hannah Flannigan, executive director of care delivery, who serves on the NWA Center for Sexual Assault board; and Vanessa Harper, executive director of strategic initiatives, who serves on the Children’s Safety Center board.
Anne Shelley, executive director for the NWA for Sexual Assault, praised Mercy and Raith for seeking to help resolve a problem for the greater good.
“Our SANE coordinator collaboration is the embodiment of Mercy’s servant mission —encompassing healing, compassionate care and exceptional service in addressing the gap in quality care for those who most people want to dismiss or ignore, due to the nature of their victimization,” she said. “Mercy has shined a much-needed healing light onto a necessary service that brings comfort to those most in need.”