New Medical Suite Will Help Child Sex Abuse Victims Begin to Heal

In an unprecedented partnership, medical professionals from two hospitals will join forces to staff an on-site medical suite at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative

Published on in CHOP News

The City of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children celebrated the opening of a new medical suite at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative to serve child sex abuse victims. The Safety Collaborative, located at 300 E. Hunting Park Avenue, is a co-location site housing Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit (SVU), the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) Sexual Abuse Investigations Unit, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and staff from the District Attorney’s Office. The site allows team members to coordinate and streamline the investigative process and lesson the trauma on victims. 

group celebrates ribbon cutting Pictured from left to right are Laura Popma, Dr. Natalie Stavas, Dr. Cindy Christian, Dr. Kristine Fortin, Madeline Bell, Dr. Philip Scribano and Dr. Carla Parkin-Joseph The new medical suite, which includes three fully functioning exam rooms, will be staffed by physicians from the CHOP and St. Christopher’s Hospitals as well as a several nurse practitioners.  The suite will provide full medical evaluations on-site, including evaluation and treatment of trauma, treatment of possible exposure to infection and for the collection of evidence.

According to DHS Commissioner Vanessa Garrett Harley, the availability of on-site medical care will help limit the secondary trauma for children who have experienced sexual abuse as well as their families.  “Children and families served by the site are experiencing high levels of anguish and stress.  The new suite will ensure that they receive the appropriate screening and treatment they need and eliminate the complex navigation of multiple systems.

Chris Kirchner, Executive Director of PCA notes that the new medical suite will, “dramatically increase access to medical attention to victims and will help children begin the healing process by reassuring them that their bodies are ‘OK’ after alleged sexual abuse.”

The ability to complete on-site medical examinations will also aid in the prosecution of sexual abuse cases as trained doctors can provide timely examination results and courtroom testimony on the evaluations.

Since opening in August 2013, the Safety Collaborative has conducted approximately 4,500 forensic interviews and provided victim services to the children and non-offending family members. Having the entire multi-disciplinary collaboration in place increases swift and timely sharing of information and the Department’s ability to conduct sound and conclusive investigations and better ensure the safety and well-being of the victim child and all of the children in their home of origin. 

“The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is pleased to provide these vital services in the Philadelphia community,” said Madeline Bell, president and CEO at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Through our partnership with the City of Philadelphia, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, we are providing children who are victims of sexual abuse with access to pediatric experts and caregivers who can meet their needs at the most critical time. I would especially like to thank Dr. Phil Scribano, who spearheaded our efforts to make this project a reality.”

About the Department of Human Services

The Philadelphia Department of Human Services is the City agency charged with protecting children from abuse, neglect, and delinquency; ensuring their safety and permanency in nurturing home environments; and strengthening and preserving families by enhancing community-based prevention services. In partnership with community organizations, DHS provides services to strengthen the overall well-being of Philadelphia children, youth, and families using a customer focused approach that is responsive to evolving community needs.

About the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance

Imagine a safe haven, where every child affected by the trauma of sexual abuse in Philadelphia is able to begin the healing process; a place where experts in the fields of social work, law enforcement, child protective services, medicine and prosecution collaborate to achieve justice for each child; a place that works to ensure that justice is carried out; that place is the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.

About The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 535-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents.

About St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Since 1875, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has been providing exceptional patient care and advancing new pediatric treatments through research and innovation. Through affiliations with Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and Albert Einstein Medical Center, St. Christopher’s is a teaching hospital helping to train the next generation of professionals in pediatric medicine. For more than 60 years, the hospital has been dedicated to not only the education and training of physicians, but, also to that of nurses and other allied health professionals.