Alberta program trains rural health care workers in supporting sex assault victims

FILE - A nurse tends to a patient at the Bluewater Health Hospital in Sarnia, Ont., on Wednesday, Jan, 26, 2022. Chris Young, The Canadian Press

A newly-developed course that will train rural health-care providers to better support victims of sexual assault is now open for enrolment through a northern Alberta post-secondary.

The Alberta government said $1 million in funding — first announced in October — helped Grande Prairie’s Northwestern Polytechnic develop an online course for specialized training.

The course, called Rural Sexual Assault Care-Expanded, teaches how to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care to survivors of recent sex assaults.

It focuses on assessment, forensic evidence collection and court testimony.

The government said too often sex assault survivors in rural Alberta must drive long distances to access essential care and services.

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The funding is to cover the cost of the online course for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered midwives and doctors in rural Alberta.

“We want to ensure that as many health-care providers as possible have access to training to best support survivors of sexual assault when they are most vulnerable, and no matter where they live in the province,” Tanya Fir, Alberta’s parliamentary secretary for the status of women, said in a news release Monday.

“Alberta’s government is committed to supporting all survivors and ensuring the resources and support they deserve are available to them.”

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