TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A simple patient room inside Banner University Medical Center provides a safe space for survivors of sexual assault.
"It's been another entry point into care for our patients who have experienced sexual assault," said Dr. Nathaniel Johnson with the Banner University Medical Center Emergency Medicine Department.
Prior to September 2021, Tucson Medical Center was the only local hospital survivors could visit to get support, care and a medical forensic exam.
"The benefit for the patient is that there is one visit," said Johnson. "They don't have to go to a different institution. After what has occurred, that could be potentially very traumatic."
The collection of services offered at Banner University is referred to as the SAFE-T Program. Since it's launch, 94 survivors have sought the hospital's services. 42 of those patients chose to have a medical forensic exam.
"I think our numbers validated the need to expand our services," said Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) Director, Katlyn Monje.
The program is a collaboration between Banner University, the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault and the University of Arizona Consortium on Gender Based Violence.
"This is directly adjacent to campus, so it has allowed more accessibility for students, staff and anybody on campus," said Cynthia Chapman with the University of Arizona Consortium on Gender Based Violence.
Their efforts extend beyond the hospital.
"The ultimate goal is not just to connect survivors with these services, which are obviously very needed in our community right now, but to eliminate this as an issue in our community," said Monje.
If you, or someone you know, is a survivor of sexual assault, call the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault's 24-hour crisis line: (520) 327-7273.
Megan Meier is a reporter for KGUN 9. Megan graduated from Arizona State Universityʼs Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications in May 2018. While pursuing her degree in broadcast journalism, Megan interned at the City of Phoenix. Share your story ideas and important issues with Megan by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.