UPPER MARLBORO — Local fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. donated forensic medical equipment to the Prince George’s County Family Justice Center on Sept. 12 to assist with the centers new Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations (SANE) program.
“It will allow us to really support the mission and the vision of this facility which is that we want to provide comprehensive, holistic services in a very efficient manner,” said Denise McCain, director of the Family Justice Center. “If a person needs to have a rape exam, rather than sending them to another location which is a hospital or clinic, they have that done right here.”
Kappa Alpha Psi, donated high tech medical equipment such as an examination table, high-intensity camera, blood pressure monitors and a thermoscan as well as basic equipment such as chairs, pillows, clothing for survivors, robes, couches and an electronic file cabinet from Medical Device Depot, Walmart and Staples. They gave the equipment to the facility at an unveiling ceremony on Sept. 12.
The fraternity does a number of community outreach projects throughout the county such as delivering holiday baskets to families in need and co-hosting a senior citizen dinner during the Christmas season. They also reach out with their Kappa Youth Leadership & Development League, a program designed to mentor young men and develop their leadership talents, free SAT and financial aid workshops and an essay contest for high school students to enhance literacy skills and increase their knowledge of local and national issues.
“I think this is a real example of what a successful private and public partnership looks like,” McCain said. “I applaud Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, men who are traditionally not involved in this issue, but we need more men to take a stand against violence against women.”
The Family Justice Center opened in 2016 in Upper Marlboro, a seven-year initiative headed by Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams and other collaborators in the Prince George’s County Circuit Court.
Since then, they have expanded by partnering with organizations such as Community Advocates for Family and Youth, House of Ruth, Still I Rise and various county departments such as Prince George’s County Department of Family Services, Prince George’s County Police Department and Prince George’s County Office of the State’s Attorney. According to their 2016 annual report, the Family Justice Center served a total of 1,303 clients, received over $900,000 in funding and have had the opportunity to grow since then.
With the implementation of the SANE program and the equipment that Kappa Alpha Psi donated for it, the center will work with University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center who will provide mobile exam nurses that would be on-call and available to come in and provide examinations.
“The family justice center was gracious enough to dedicate a room over at the center for sexual assault exams so that we would have a private place for patients in the community to come to without having to go to the hospital end of it,” said Kim Grady, program director for the Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking and Sexual Assault Program at the hospital.
“Sometimes, hospitals are pretty noisy and they have the get a medical clearance before they go to the hospital. When they’re coming through the center, the Family Justice Center, it doesn’t have to be about the clearance, it’s about the need for the exam, that one-to-one talk. We will have an advocate there as well so they will have someone to talk to before getting the exam.”
Everything the nurses would usually have at the hospital will be set up at the Family Justice Center to be able to do a comprehensive exam all in one place.
“The goal and the real impact of this is that we are fulfilling our mission which is to be efficient and effective and serve people in a way that speaks to dignity and respect and not requiring us to go to varying locations,” McCain said. “It can be done right here under one roof.”
The program hasn’t officially kicked off yet as the Family Justice Center is waiting to meet with the nurses from the hospital to develop a protocol, develop schedules and more of an operational practice as to what this could look like which should take place within the next 30 days.
The Family Justice Center and University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center have been collaborating over the program since 2016, but they needed the equipment before they could really start to get the program off the ground, Grady said.
However, the hospital has been assisting the Family Justice Center’s survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking and other stakeholders by providing assistance at the hospital and having monthly meetings to see what is going on in the county and how they as a group can best approach the issues.
Although SANE hasn’t officially started yet, the Family Justice Center has seen about 40 to 50 survivors of rape and sexual assault and victims of domestic violence who have been sexually assaulted since the center opened, McCain said, so although they aren’t sure how many people SANE will get, they can expect around that amount at least.
“The good thing about having the Family Justice Center is that it’s a one-stop shop so that a person that is a victim of sexual violent crime and sexual assault is able to get all that they need,” Grady said. “There are legal services there, there are counseling services there, there are services for the children that they may have if it’s a domestic violence issue that is linked with the sexual assault there is a way to help them get housing and get out of the situation they’re in.”
With the problem of sexual assault and domestic violence existing throughout Prince George’s County, the Family Justice Center sees the SANE program as a step in the right direction and hopes to get involved with other organizations and elected officials to work toward change.
“I’m just really very honored and we can’t thank them (Kappa Alpha Psi) enough for being real champions in partnering with us in this initiative and hopefully more men will step up and want to get involved because I think that’s what it’s going to take to change the tide of violence against women,” McCain said.