PROVIDENCE ST. PATRICK HOSPITAL — FIRST STEP
First Step Resource provides services for children, families and adults in Missoula and surrounding counties who may have experienced sexual assault or child abuse.
For adults and adolescents who have experienced sexual assault, we offer:
The health and well-being of our patients is our number one priority. A trained nurse or nurse practitioner will meet clients at a private, safe clinic. The examiner will provide a comprehensive medical assessment, lab tests, medication to prevent sexually transmitted infections, and educational materials. Examiners will assess and treat injuries and make referrals for follow-up medical care if indicated. Medical care is available even when a client is not interested in having evidence collected.
The First Step medical staff provides expert collection of biological evidence. DNA evidence may be collected up to five days after a sexual assault, but it is most likely to yield positive results if it is collected sooner. Depending on the history, the examiner may collect clothing and/or urine / blood for toxicology screening.
COORDINATION WITH OTHER AGENCIES
While at First Step, adults / adolescents reporting sexual assault are offered a community advocate. Advocates can provide emotional support to the client immediately following the assault and for as long as needed after the assault. Advocates provide information about options. If a person is interested in reporting to law enforcement, she/he may be connected with the agency of jurisdiction while at First Step.
For children and their families suspecting abuse, we offer:
COORDINATED FORENSIC INTERVIEWS FOR CHILDREN
Children will speak with a trained forensic interviewer. Questions are asked in a nonleading and nonthreatening manner. Investigative agencies may watch the interview from another room — allowing the interviewer to address the questions of other team members.
Children’s examinations are noninvasive and similar to a well-child checkup. Often the most important part of the exam is offering reassurance to the child and/or family that the child’s body is okay. In addition to evaluating a child’s health, the examiner can answer questions and provide education.
TRAUMA-INFORMED MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING, TREATMENTS AND/OR REFERRALS
Whenever possible, the First Step social worker staff offers the family a mental health screening at the time of the child’s evaluation. Based on the screening, the social worker may offer a therapeutic assessment or provide informed referrals for mental health care in the community.
FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES
The First Step social worker staff aims to meet with the family during the child’s appointment. If this is not possible, staff provides follow-up for families over the phone. Staff provides education about dynamics of abuse, education about the investigatory process, referrals for advocacy, information about community resources and assessment of family needs.
First Step Resources can be accessed at a private clinic or through the hospital ER.