Sanford Health supports safety across the country

Part of becoming a top leader in rural health care is knowing what organizations to work with.

Sanford Health is proud to call the Missouri Valley Crisis Center a partner.

Protection of victims

April Lebo is the executive director of the Missouri Valley Crisis Center. The nonprofit organization, based in Chamberlain, South Dakota, offers safety and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence.

“We help victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, dating violence, stalking, human trafficking, harassment and other forms of abuse,” she explained.

“Services include, but are not limited to, a 24-hour crisis hotline, crisis counseling, shelter, transportation in specific approved cases, legal, medical and personal advocacy, protection order assistance, emergency financial support, counseling and other services for maintenance.”

Addictions fuel violence, Lebo says

LeBeau said this service is sorely needed, especially in the counties they serve. MVCC typically serves Lyman, Bruhl and Buffalo counties in South Dakota, “but if someone calls and needs help and they’re from anywhere, we’ll listen to their situation and if they need help, we’ll help them anywhere,” according to LeBeau.

She said in those counties and South Dakota in general, drug and alcohol addictions often fuel violence and assaults.

“Domestic violence programs, including those with emergency shelter services, have been found to be one of the most supportive and effective resources for those experiencing violence.

“There are some studies that have been done that report that for women who are actively trying to use other strategies, staying in a shelter dramatically reduces the likelihood of being abused again,” Lebo said.

Partners help victims

MVCC serves approximately 200 people annually. LeBeau said partners like Sanford Health help the nonprofit fulfill its mission.

“Many times we have had Sanford nurses come to us looking for a victim advocate who is in the emergency room receiving medical services for injuries caused by domestic violence or sexual assault. When we arrive, we are working with the Sanford team to comfort the victims at this extremely difficult time,” she said.

Find help: Sanford Health provides resources to prevent child abuse

When a sexual assault victim goes to the emergency room for a forensic sexual assault exam, also known as a rape kit, law enforcement takes all of her clothes and shoes as evidence.

Often, victims have no other belongings with them at the time, so they are forced to leave the emergency room in hospital slippers and a gown.

“I felt it was extremely humiliating, so I put together care packages with clothes, shoes, hygiene items, a blanket and a stuffed animal,” Lebo said. “I asked Sanford if these items could be kept and used for victims who needed clothing after a rape kit. Sanford staff have always been very understanding and eager to help. And that means so much.”

Erica Peterson is a senior director at Sanford Chamberlain and Sanford Pierre. She described the partnership between Sanford Health and the crisis center as “multifaceted.”

“The work that MVCC does is clearly focused on domestic violence. They also support situations where maybe a single mom is struggling to make ends meet and can’t get baby milk or diapers or diapers or wipes. They will fill that gap and we do regularly. If we come across someone in need, I know April is in our corner and she will help us bridge that gap.

“The other part of it is that sex trafficking is a huge problem in this state. Because our facility is on the interstate, we see significant situations where April is involved and she helps support us in that,” Peterson explained.

Meeting the needs of the community

Peterson said the health care provider has a history of community support, which is what makes providing care to smaller, rural communities so special.

“I think especially in rural communities, the resources, whatever they are, whether it’s care packages, food resources, childcare, these situations allow us to come together as a community and support each other,” Peterson said.

“The fact that we’re located where we are in the state of South Dakota, being the only hospital on the interstate between Mitchell and Rapid City, that alone speaks to the investment Sanford Health has in rural care. Whether it’s working through MVCC, the local food bank, handing out food kits, or simply recognizing that all personal health matters, it really shows the value Sanford Health finds in rural health care.”

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Posted in Chamberlain, Community, Rural Health, Women

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