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Rhode Island awarded grant to help sexual assault survivors

Members of the Rhode Island State Police lead the inauguration procession at the State House in Providence, R.I., Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Members of the Rhode Island State Police lead the inauguration procession at the State House in Providence, R.I., Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Rhode Island Hospital is getting $600,000 in federal funding to launch the state's first Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program, according to the congressional delegation.

The hospital was awarded the funding from the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime, the state's congressional delegation said. The federal funding will enable Rhode Island to provide equitable access to quality, trauma-informed medical and forensic care for survivors of sexual assault and support community resources that prioritize healing and justice, the delegation said.

Sen. Jack Reed said it will ensure evidence is properly collected and analyzed, thereby reducing trauma for sexual assault survivors and strengthening the state’s capacity to effectively prosecute cases.

Rhode Island Hospital is part of the Lifespan health system. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Lifespan is building a new program to provide comprehensive support to survivors of sexual assault.

The Department of Justice grant will be used to establish a mobile, SAFE program in coordination with Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital. An expert SAFE director, educator and coordinator will be hired to support this effort, and they expect to work with close to 200 patients annually.

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