By Rip Prine

VALDOSTA -- The Haven Rape Crisis Center has received a device for its examination room that will make it easier to collect physical evidence from victims of sexual assault.

Funding from Smith Northview Hospital provided the colposcope. In rape investigations, a sexual assault nurse examiner will use the device to examine victims.

The idea for getting the colposcope came from Karen Mortensen, manager of The Haven's Rape Crisis Center, who recognized its value. However, the colposcopes she had seen were large and cost as much as $25,000.

About a year ago, Mortensen attended a Sexual Assault Response Team conference in New Orleans, La., and saw a colposcope that fit the Rape Crisis Center's needs. It was compact enough to fit in the examination room and it was affordable. Mortensen contacted Dr. Joe Clifton, medical advisor for The Haven, who in turn contacted Robert Bauer, chief executive officer at the newly opened Smith Northview Hospital, for possible funding.

Bauer wanted to know more about the colposcope and how it's used. He contacted the hospital's administrative staff, which gave him a thorough briefing. "Then we agreed to fund it," Bauer said.

The hospital agreed to fund up to $10,000 for a colposcope, and the new one cost $9,875, said Silke Deeley, The Haven's executive director for The Haven. It arrived about two weeks ago and has already been used in four reported rape cases, she said.

"We will use it every time we have a rape," Mortensen added.

The colposcope can be used to detect early bruising that isn't noticed, which can be used in domestic violence cases to find out if a person has been the victim of physical abuse. Bauer knew the equipment was important, but when he found out it had more uses, he was very excited that Smith Northview Hospital had a part in making it happen, he said.

"I'm very excited about the fact that it has more than one purpose," Deeley said. "Anytime we are asking for support from the community, in the large amount of $10,000 for a piece of equipment, I hope that always, that's going to serve a large portion of victims, not just a smaller population."

"It's going to definitely increase the evidence collection," Mortensen said. "Jurists, in fact everybody that we work with, wants to see injuries. Injuries make the case stronger. (The colposcope) makes it easier to explain to juries that there were physical injuries, and this is how they were caused."

To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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