Rio Grande Valley organizations are speaking out about Mission Regional Medical Center’s decision to end its Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Unit. The news leaving many with unanswered questions.
As a sexual assault survivor, George Longoria of Advocacy for Everyone, has lived the traumatic experiences many valley residents live through in silence.
“Honestly, it is more rare to find someone who is not a victim of sexual violence in some way, than to find someone who is.”
The closure of the SAFE Program laid off two of only four sexual assault nurse examiners in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Four for the whole valley, that’s nuts!!” says Longoria.
For now, one of the nurses will be at McAllen Medical Center. The only other hospital with similar services is in Harlingen.
News Center 23 reached out to Mission Regional yesterday for comment on the decision. And in a statement they said, “While the SAFE Program has been a wonderful service, we cannot continue absorbing the cost of a voluntary 24 hours a day, seven days a week program, at the expense of other inpatient and ambulatory services our community needs.”
Longoria says, “They play a vital role in a sexual assault investigation in order for it to move forward and be taken to trial. If they’re not there, that means sexual assailants will be allowed to just continue committing these crimes. And that’s going to have a very widespread effect in our community in safety, morale, and other.”
Longoria says Mission Regional’s decision is taking a step backward in ending the stigma surrounding physical and sexual violence..
Currently, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance is working to create a similar program for sexual assault survivors.