I strongly feel that all hospitals should provide medical care to all rape victims all of the time. While other hospitals have dropped out of the program, Queen of the Valley Hospital has remained committed to providing medical care to rape victims. Despite increasing financial losses, no victim has been turned away from our emergency facility.
It is no wonder, though, that hospitals are refusing to do these examinations. Funding is so poor that we cannot expect hospitals to shoulder the burden alone. The expanded examination and reporting procedures recently developed by the state Office of Criminal Justice typically require four to five hours by hospital employees. Costs to the hospital can run up to more than $600 and for this the hospital is reimbursed about $50.
While this is clearly unfair to the hospital, it is wrong to force the rape victim to be transported the distance to the county hospital during this emotionally traumatic period simply because we have a flaw in our reimbursement. A better system must be worked out by our elected officials working together with the hospital administrators and the local law enforcement agencies.
The rape victim deserves the best medical care that our society can provide. Hospitals must continue to provide medical treatment and evidence collection, but we must reimburse them for the services they provide.
DONALD J. KURTH, M.D.
Sexual Assault Program
Queen of the Valley Hospital