Sanford Health supports safety throughout the heartland

Partnerships between organizations help care for victims of domestic violence and assault

Sanford Health supports safety throughout the heartland

Part of becoming the premier leader in rural health care is knowing what organizations to team up with.

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

Keeping victims safe

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

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

“Services include, but are not limited to, a 24/7/365 crisis hotline, crisis counseling, shelter, transportation in specific approved cases, legal, medical, and personal advocacy, protection order assistance, emergency financial support, counseling, and other support services.”

Addictions fuel violence, LeBeau says

LeBeau said this service is direly needed, especially within the counties they serve. MVCC typically serves the Lyman, Brule, and Buffalo counties in South Dakota, “but if someone calls and they need 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 these counties, and South Dakota in general, drug and alcohol addictions oftentimes fuel violence and assaults.

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

“There have been some studies conducted that have reported that, for women who were actively attempting other strategies, a stay at a shelter dramatically reduced the likelihood they would be abused again,” LeBeau said.

Partners help serve victims

MVCC serves roughly 200 people per year. LeBeau said partners like Sanford Health help the nonprofit live out its mission.

“There’s been many times when nurses at Sanford will reach out to us, looking for an advocate for victims that are in the ER receiving medical services for injuries sustained because of domestic violence or sexual assaults. When we arrive, we work with Sanford staff to comfort the victims during that extremely difficult time,” she said.

Find help: Sanford Health provides resources to prevent child abuse

When a victim of sexual assault goes into the ER for a sexual assault forensic exam, otherwise known as a rape kit, law enforcement takes all of their clothes and shoes as evidence.

Oftentimes victims have no other possessions with them at the time, so they’re forced to leave the ER in hospital slippers and a gown.

“I felt that is extremely humiliating, so I put together care package bags of clothing, shoes, hygiene items, a blanket, and stuffed animal,” said LeBeau. “I asked Sanford if these items could be stored and used for victims who need clothing after a rape kit is performed. Sanford employees have always been very understanding and eager to help. And that means so much.”

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

“The work the MVCC does is obviously focused around domestic violence. They also support situations where maybe a single mom is struggling to make ends meet and can’t get baby formula, or diapers, or pull-ups, or wipes. They’ll fill that gap, and we’ve done that regularly. If we run across someone who has a need, I know April’s in our corner and she’s going to help us meet that gap.

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

Meeting needs of the community

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

“I think in rural communities especially, resources, no matter what they are, whether they’re the care package bags, food resources, care for little ones, those situations allow us to come together as a community and support each other,” said Peterson.

“The fact that we are situated 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 be working through the MVCC, the local food bank, giving out food kits, or just recognizing that whole personal wellness matters, that really shows the value Sanford Health finds in rural health care.”

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Posted In Chamberlain, Community, Here for all. Here for good., Rural Health, Women's