COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.--The Otsego County Child Advocacy Center is expanding its services to better serve victims of sexually or severe physical abuse and their families.
The center and the Bassett Healthcare Network collaborated to open up a new clinical exam room in Cooperstown.
The entire facility is designed to be child-friendly and to limit any more trauma to children, who report instances of sexual or severe physical abuse.
"The child advocacy center is total so child focus and child centered and having this space that is just for this child for this moment, that we can spend time one-on-one," said Joan Pyle, coordinator of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, at Bassett Medical Center. "Then it's just the family is here and none of the family or the child have to worry about anybody coming in or strangers that their privacy is well respected here."
The new exam room allows the nurse to screen for sexually transmitted diseases in a noninvasive manner with a private bathroom available. Nurses also have sexual assault kits on site to gather evidence for an investigation.
Denise Oliver, coordinator at the center, said it takes an entire team of health care professionals, law enforcement members, social workers and the district attorney's office to provide support and justice for each victim.
She said having an exam room, an interview room and a waiting room all in the same facility, makes it easier for victims and their families.
"They should be able to use an exam room that's in a private place in a child-friendly atmosphere then they don't have to go to the emergency room," Oliver said. "The person that's doing the exam will just have time just for that child, or if it's siblings those children that are here, so they'll be able to spend more time with them. It will be more relaxing for the family, the other children that aren't having the exam can be in another friendly waiting area."
Oliver said each year the center works with roughly 80 children who report some type of abuse.