DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — For victims of sexual assault, there are few places in the state of Alabama that can conduct a rape kit, collecting DNA evidence after the attack.
In the Wiregrass, one hospital had to discontinue it’s program, but a new long-term solution may be just a few months away.
Several years ago, Southeast Health saw the problem and staffed a sexual assault nurse examiner making it possible for victims of rape to have evidence collected in the Wiregrass. Due to the increased demands’ of health care workers from COVID-19, Southeast Health stopped the program in September.
WDHN has learned that Dothan mayor Mark Saliba along with health care workers and law enforcement have held meetings and want to come up with a sort of stand alone entity that would not only collect DNA evidence, but also offer other help and counseling to rape victims.
Right now, there are only about five centers like this operating across Alabama and they’d like to see another one here in the Wiregrass.
“If a sexual assault victim, it takes place somewhere in this city or in this county they can get the care here and they don’t have to go anywhere else,” Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba said. “So that’s the long term solution to come together as a community and figure out.”
Mayor Saliba says it should take a couple of months to come up with a permanent solution, but in the meantime both hospitals in town are equipped with DNA kits for sexual assault victims.
He says the new stand alone type center might be composed of several local agencies.
Some of them, perhaps, entities that are already in place in the Wiregrass.