Residents of an island off the New Brunswick coast will have easier access to the province’s health services after the New Brunswick government announced on Thursday that sexual assault victims will now be flown to Saint John for examination.
Previously, a person who was sexually assaulted in Grand Manan, N.B., located 32 kilometres south of Blacks Harbour, would have had to take a ferry to the mainland in order to receive an examination.
That meant the victim “could not take a shower, change clothes, brush their teeth or go to the bathroom,” said New Brunswick Justice Minister and Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason on Thursday.
“Then, after a ferry trip, the victim had to drive to Saint John to undergo the sexual assault forensic medical examination.”
The experience would be even worse if someone was assaulted overnight as they would be forced to wait until the first sailing at 7:30 a.m.
The new service, which is being co-ordinated through the Grand Manan Hospital, is meant to provide residents with quicker and easier access to New Brunswick’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program.
It’s a service that includes forensic evidence collection, patient counselling, medical care and preventive care for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing.
“Transportation options like the air ambulance, combined with telehealth technology, really improve our ability to deliver timely, safe and quality care to victims of sexual assault on Grand Manan,” said Geri Geldart, Horizon Health’s clinical vice-president and chief nursing officer.
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People who have been sexually assaulted are now encouraged to report to the Grand Manan Hospital, where officials will arrange for ambulance transportation to the island’s airfield.
Atlantic Charters, a private air charter service based on Grand Manan, will then fly the victim to Saint John for an examination.
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