GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The YWCA is working with doctors across West Michigan to better identify women who may be victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Dr. Robyn Hubbard, an OB-GYN at the Women’s Health Center in Grand Rapids, said doctors need to talk to patients about domestic violence. To help that effort be more effective, the YWCA is providing education and information to all levels of doctor’s office employees for free.
“The YW is going to come in and train my staff and my nurses and my clinical staff to be aware, and how to screen and help them for (domestic abuse or sexual assault). They are also offering one-hour training for physicians,” Hubbard said. “They’re really doing a great comprehensive job of making sure the message is out there. They’re trying to broaden the compliance with physicians for asking the question and support for women who need it.”
The women’s organization has also been handing out packets of information about how to bring up the subject, including advice on speaking with women of different ages and cultures, and how to help if someone is being abused, like planning tips to help them get out of the situation. The packets also include information about local resources.
“A lot of victims really feel guilty. They feel responsible,” Hubbard said. “And there’s a complex, emotional reaction and even brain chemistry changes can happen to women that have been abused over a period of time, where they take on so much of that responsibility. So it’s really hard for them to feel empowered enough and strong for them to leave.”
The Affordable Care Act has made talking about abuse and assault easier for physicians. Insurance companies will reimburse doctors who screen patients.
“In today’s health care, it’s hard,” Hubbard said. “More and more patients, less and less reimbursement. This will be a motivator for physicians to take the time to talk to people. And we all want to do that. It’s just trying to standardize it for everyone.”