Howard Brown Health Expands Access to Medical Care for Sexual Assault Survivors

(Chicago, March 1, 2021) – Starting Monday, March 1, Howard Brown Health will begin providing access to medical forensic exams and evidence collection for survivors of sexual assault on the North and South sides of Chicago through its In Power program. Together with local rape crisis centers Resilience and Mujeres Latinas en Acción, the In Power Department will ensure that survivors receive the comprehensive healthcare and follow-up service options needed to support survivors in the aftermath of sexual violence.

“As an affirming place for the LGBTQ community, Howard Brown’s ability to provide expanded access to medical forensic exams could be the difference between a queer or trans person making the choice to seek care or deal with a traumatic event on their own,” said Dr. Paige Baker-Braxton, Director of In Power. “We’re thrilled to begin providing this critical service to any person in need of care following a sexual assault, a goal of In Power and Howard Brown’s since the program’s inception. In Power has witnessed a spike in utilization since March 2020 when the pandemic began, and now we can do even more for survivors.”

In response to COVID-19 and its impact on accessing medical treatment in hospital emergency rooms, Howard Brown along with Resilience, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Assault, and the Cook County States Attorney Office advocated for necessary amendments to the Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Act. The changes were needed to increase access to medical care for survivors outside of an emergency room setting. Previously, the only entities empowered to perform medical forensic exams for sexual assault have been hospitals, whose resources were diverted to emergency treatment and care in the face of the pandemic.

In June 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB 577, an amendment to the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act (SASETA) allowing federally qualified health centers like Howard Brown to perform medical forensic exams during a governor-declared state of public health emergency and 90 days after the end of the declaration, currently scheduled to conclude on June 1, 2021.

In Power recently expanded capacity to support for sexual assault survivors, including medical services, medical and legal advocacy, and behavioral health services. This holistic approach to supporting survivors includes free and confidential STI testing and treatment, short-term case management, basic-needs support, access to legal orders of protection, intimate partner violence counseling, and much more. Services are available on the North Side in Uptown, and on the South Side in Englewood. For a full list of In Power services and locations, visit http://howardbrown.org/inpower

Since 2017, Howard Brown has been a key player in working with stakeholders to get this legislation passed through advocacy at the local and state level. Read our full press release about the signing of the amendment to SASETA here.

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Media Inquiries:

Erik Roldan, Director of Marketing and Communication, erikr@howardbrown.org, (cell) 312.206.2167

Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in healthcare experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through research, education and the provision of services that promote health and wellness. Howard Brown is the largest LGBTQ organization in the Midwest, providing primary and specialty healthcare, social services, and infectious disease screenings to more than 35,000 people each year. In response to the pandemic, Howard Brown has limited services to 8 of its 11 clinic locations and launched telephone and video options for patients to access care via telehealth.  Learn more at howardbrown.org.

Since 1973, Mujeres Latinas en Acción is the longest standing Latina-led organization in the nation. Their programs are designed for trauma survivors to heal, thrive, and lead. For more information, go to mujereslatinasenaccion.org Resilience (formerly Rape Victim Advocates) founded in 1974, is dedicated to the healing and empowerment of sexual assault survivors through non-judgmental crisis intervention, individual and group trauma therapy, and medical and legal advocacy in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. For more information, go to ourresilience.org/programs-services/

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