Stepping up to plate

Juneau Shriners Club raises more than $15,000 to buy updated medical equipment for the SAFE Child Advocacy Center

Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2009

A donation of new medical equipment to Juneau's Child Advocacy Center will help physicians conduct more efficient, high-quality exams on sexual assault victims, a local pediatrician says.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

In July, the Juneau Shriners Club spent about $15,245 to buy a new digital camera and colposcope - a magnifying instrument used to examine tissues the vagina and cervix of the uterus - for the Southeast Alaska Family Evaluation (SAFE) Child Advocacy Center. The center, located behind the Jordan Creek Mall, services about 100 children per year.

CAC program manager Brian Messing was thrilled the Shriners could help fulfill their need for a new colposcope. The previous one was about eight years old.

"Technology was advancing beyond our capabilities with the old equipment, which used 35 mm film documentation," Messing said. "The new colposcope has a digital camera that will help to keep up with technology and give the best quality documentation possible."

Messing said the center's doctors are very pleased with it's operation.

"It is user friendly and has much higher quality for documentation purposes," he said. "We are very grateful to the Shriners organization for their generosity. Their donation has already made a difference to improve the quality of service we provide for medical exams at our CAC."

According to CAC physician Dr. Amy Dressel, the center's previous equipment had trouble with focusing and lighting.

"We used to have to try to take the film pictures as well as click to get the digital pictures in the computer, so you had to do two separate pictures at the same time," she said. "So you can imagine working with young children, trying to click one and then reach over and click the other, it was pretty difficult."

But with the new camera, exams now mean less work for the child, Dressel added.

"We can shoot, take the picture and be done and not have to worry about the focusing, the lighting, everything," she said.

The new colposcope also helps in prosecuting sex offenders, because it provides better quality pictures, Dressel said.

"It helps make sure the children get due justice," Dressel said. "It also benefits the Juneau Police Department, because they're not having to hold to our pictures, they can just have the digital files on it. ... It makes life easier for all of us all the way around."

Juneau Shriners Club president Jeff Polizzotto said the Shriners were happy to help.

"They had an important need of medical equipment for children, and the Juneau-Douglas Shriners, being a child centered philanthropy, was happy to step up to the plate and make the purchase after Dr. George Brown explained the need for this equipment our weekly Shriner luncheon," he said.

The Child Advocacy Center accepts donations of any kind. Each child receives a toy and local handmade blanket when they visit.

"A lot of people donate toys to be either in the center or for us to give away," Dressel said. "So it's really a community supported center, which is really nice. And having the Shriners involved just adds to it even more."

But even with four pediatricians and two nurses, the center still welcomes volunteers.

"If anyone else is interested, who has licenses and are willing to donate time to help out, that would be great," Dressel said. "We're always looking for more people, too."

The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To make a donation or inquire about volunteering, call 463-6157.

"The whole system, the Child Advocacy Center, through Catholic Community Services, was put together by a bunch of people thinking we need something different for the children," Dressel said. "We don't want them to be scared, we don't want them to go to the ER and have a negative experience there after something's been done. So it's a very child-friendly place, and it just adds to being child-friendly to have a wonderful digital camera that we can use with ease."

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