Child Abuse Assessment Team (CAAT) at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center
It is not easy to talk about child abuse. But, as Kim Copeland, MD points out, talking about it is an important part of being able to prevent it. “Nobody wants to believe child abuse happens in their community, but the truth is, it happens everywhere,” she says. “Acknowledging this reality and raising awareness are key to being able to prevent incidents of abuse.”
Dr. Copeland leads the Child Abuse Assessment Team (CAAT) at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, caring for hundreds of kids every year who may have experienced abuse or neglect. Responsible for serving Southwest Washington - including Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum and Klickitat Counties - the five-person team provides medical evaluations for children, ranging from infants to 17 years-old, to assess concerns of abuse.
The CAAT works with a wide range of community partners including child protective services, law enforcement and family advocates to ensure the child and their parents or guardians have the support and resources needed to achieve healing, safety and justice.
While the CAAT’s focus is on medical evaluation, the team knows prevention is a key part of creating a healthy community for kids. Dr. Copeland also points out that medical care is preventive, saying, “When we evaluate a child, we often learn about the one specific instance of maltreatment they are currently experiencing. But there is often more going on. The CAAT’s work interrupts cycles of abuse and provides services and referrals to prevent further maltreatment of the child.”
Sometimes a child needs more medical care than can be provided in the CAAT’s outpatient setting. In those cases, children are admitted to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel and treated by the medical providers of CARES Northwest. Like the CAAT, CARES Northwest is a child abuse assessment center primarily operating in Multnomah and Washington Counties in Oregon.
Combined, the CAAT and CARES Northwest provided direct services to over 2,000 children and their families last year. This important work receives generous support from community donors. Gifts help provide medical evaluation, trauma-focused therapy, prevention education and staff development. “We are incredibly thankful for the dedication and contributions of our donors,” says Dr. Copeland. “They help ensure we continue to deliver the highest level of care to children and families who need us.”