Thursday, July 8, 2010

UPDATE: Ottawa Hospital to start offering 24/7 treatment for sex assault survivors

The Ottawa Hospital has reconfigured their staffing practices to ensure that a trained nurse will be available 24/7 to administer the collection of evidence and treatment of sexual assault survivors.

It sure didn't take long, yet they waited until after who knows how many sex assault survivors were either sent home to wait around for hours or days, or were sent to a hospital 2 hours away for treatment, before they did anything about this obvious problem with both the health care and justice systems.

I'm glad the issue appears to have been resolved, but it shouldn't have taken a bunch of media and public attention to make change. Hospital workers, and by extension those who run and manage hospitals, should be genuinely concerned for people's health and welfare. When a sexual assault survivor is brought to the hospital for treatment and the collection of evidence, there should be no long wait, no turning away, and absolutely no adding to the physical and emotional trauma that person has already endured.

I don't know what the stats are on survivors who have been turned away to either go to Renfrew or come back to the Civic later, but I do know that in the comments on the original story at the Ottawa Citizen website, several people said either they or someone they knew received the same kind of treatment as the woman this past weekend. And that wasn't even a long comment thread - can you imagine what the actual stats must be like?

This certainly was a victory for future survivors of sexual assault in Ottawa, but a bittersweet one. There should not have been a challenge to overcome in the first place.

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