St. Joseph Health System hosts fundraiser for new program at Huron Breeze


WHITNEY TOWNSHIP — A national program that trains nurses in dealing with sexual assault victims may soon be available at St. Joseph Health System after a wine and ale tasting fundraiser was held March 6 at Huron Breeze Golf Course in an effort to get the hospital’s shareholders on board for the program.

According to Theresa Delage, special events coordinator at St. Joe’s, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner kit) is in its conceptual phase at the Tawas-based health system, which services many residents in the AuGres area and includes the AuGres Family Clinic. She says SANE trains nurses in counseling victims so health providers can help them heal not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.

She says the goal of SANE is “to get qualified health officials to work with sexual assault victims.

“We actually, last month, sent three providers from St. Joe’s to receive training,” said St. Joseph’s Executive Director of Fund Development Shelley Buresh, adding hospital volunteers, the Friends of St. Joseph, donated $1,500 to send the nurses to the training sessions provided by the Department of Justice. “There’s definitely a need in our community to help these victims with a safe haven.

“We recognize the need that’s there from the individuals who come into our ER (emergency room), we just want to make sure the support is there.”

“We found out we really needed to develop a program for men and women who find themselves in that position,” said Sister Rita Ann Teichman, Vice President of Mission Integration at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tawas.

During a brief speech at the fundraiser, Teichman said 2007 statistics showed 92 cases of sexual assault were reported, and only one conviction was made, she said, due to a lack of a safe haven for the victims to speak and receive support.

Buresh says a large part of whether or not the hospital will implement SANE depends on shareholder support, and hospital employees trying to bring the program to the area say gaining their support was a priority of the wine taster.

A small amount of seed money has been secured, though. Buresh says the Iosco County Community Foundation donated an approximately $400 grant to the establishment of SANE.

Delage says that if the hospital can offer more services to sexual assault patients, it may also play a role in helping area law enforcement agencies in putting a stop to sexual assault.

It’s a very small percentage (of victims) that actually reports instances or pursues treatment,” she said.

Money collected from donations made during the Huron Breeze fundraiser will be used to help individuals do assessments on the program’s need in the St. Joseph Health System service area, consulting and future training.

Buresh says the hospital hosts fundraisers annually to establish new programs for the St. Joseph Health System. Approximately 150 people attended the event on Friday.

The St. Joseph Health System includes clinics in AuGres, Hale, Fairview and Oscoda and St. Joseph Hospital in Tawas City.


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