Mercy Health Love County - News

Hospital Grant To Fund Victim Advocate Office

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2004

Funding for Victim Advocate Office: Hospital Administrator Richard Barker, Family Shelter Executive Jessie Nance, Mercy Memorial Health Center CEO Bob Thompson, and Sister of Mercy Carolyn Stoutz gathered to announce the Catherine's Legacy Grant to Mercy Health/Love County.

Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will have a new ally in Love County starting in January.
With a $100,000 grant awarded to Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic by the Sisters of Mercy - St. Louis Regional Community, the hospital has asked the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma to open a victim advocate office in Marietta.
The new professional will be on-call to doctors and nurses at the hospital, as well as to police and sheriff’s deputies, the district attorney’s office, the court, and major employers to whom victims reveal assaults and seek aid and protection.
The advocate also will serve the public from an office on Main Street to enable victims and their friends or family members to initiate care by direct contact. There will be a crisis hotline number and a victim support group.
The advocate will be available to other agencies, businesses, and community groups for advice, resources, and public education about ways to deter sexual and domestic violence and make it easier for victims to escape and recover from violent relationships.
The advocate will accompany victims through the court process for obtaining protective orders or pursuing prosecution and will introduce them to the comprehensive services of the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma in Ardmore.
The Family Shelter provides emergency shelter for battered women (95% of assault victims) and their children, along with resources to meet their housing, medical, social, emotional, and economic needs while they achieve independence from their abusive partners.
“We are pleased that the hospital could play a role in securing this grant in behalf of the community, because everyone is affected by violence and domestic abuse. We’re all becoming more aware, and people are stepping up and making an attempt to help,” said Darlene Beardsley, president of the Hospital Board of Control.
“The primary aim of the program is to accelerate the delivery of professional services of the Family Shelter to abuse victims in Love County. Evidence shows that without this level of personal support, women in chronically abusive situations are highly likely to drop charges and return to their batterers. That places them and their children at increased risk of injury or death,” said Richard Barker, administrator of Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic.
There are no fees for clients of the victim advocate or the Family Shelter.
The 10-year-old non-profit agency, an affiliate of United Way of South Central Oklahoma, relies heavily on charitable contributions and also receives some state and federal anti-violence funds to maintain its safe houses and staff.
Currently, a single victim advocate has been traveling among the five counties in the Family Shelter service area.
“The hospital’s grant is a huge step for Love County and a model for the rest of the counties we serve. Having an advocate on hand will allow us to help immediately,” said Jessie Nance, Family Shelter executive director.
Nance is currently interviewing candidates for the new position.
She said the Family Shelter will provide specialized training for law enforcement, medical personnel, and the prosecutor’s office in working with abuse victims. Representatives of these agencies will form an advisory group to oversee the grant and form an intervention team.
Nance said when the grant expires in two years, the Family Shelter expects to replace it with additional federal funding, based on activity and results occurring in Love County.
The administrative office of the Family Shelter is at 117 B St. SW, Ardmore, telephone 226-3750.
Sisters of Mercy Minister to Poor, Advocate for Women and Children
The grant by the Sisters of Mercy - St. Louis Regional Community was sponsored by Carolyn Stoutz, a Sister of Mercy and vice president of missions for Mercy Memorial Health Center in Ardmore.
Stoutz inspired the adoption of a mission team at Mercy Health/Love County, which opened an emergency food pantry in 2001 and has since become involved in other thoughtful endeavors in the community.
“The Sisters of Mercy are not just hospitals. We are socially-minded and have a strong ministry for advocacy. The hospital in Marietta has been demonstrating social concern and creative thinking, starting with the food pantry. I invited Richard Barker and his team to establish a project and apply for a Catherine’s Legacy grant because I knew they had the resources to research and write it and be successful,” Stoutz said.
“This is the first such grant to be awarded in our area since we purchased the hospital in Ardmore in 1996. The project has put southern Oklahoma in the minds of the Sisters of Mercy and validated our Oklahoma ministry,” she added.
Bob Thompson, Mercy Memorial administrator, praised the collaboration between the two hospitals (Mercy Health/Love County is a county-owned hospital but operates under a management agreement with Mercy Memorial).
“We have a good relationship and I’m pleased that the sisters join with our health care mission to expand our influence in Southern Oklahoma. It’s a whole team effort,” he said.
The St. Louis Region consists of 307 women who minister in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Catherine’s Legacy grants went to 13 recipients and totaled $850,000.
The grants were established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1996 to honor Catherine McAuley, who founded their order in 1831.
The grants favor projects that demonstrate a response to an unmet need, provide direct services, and promote community organizing and systemic change.
Historically, the Sisters of Mercy have advocated for the economically poor, especially women and children. Their priorities include acting in solidarity with women for “fullness of life and equality in church and society.”
McAuley established the House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1827 to create a safe place to stay for women in distress from poverty, domestic abuse and sexual assault. While in the House of Mercy, the women would acquire education and skills for independent living.
“Catherine’s Legacy grants are intended to fund projects that are in keeping with Catherine McAuley’s concerns. We identified domestic abuse as a most pressing social need in Love County. We felt that helping the Family Shelter get a head start on placing a victim advocate in Love County would most nearly fit the legacy of Catherine McAuley,” Barker said.