Mercy Health Love County - News

Poker Run Benefiting Abused Children to Stop at Mercy Health/Love County

Posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2010

For two reasons, the Poker Run for Children raising money for the Child Advocacy Center (Sara’s House) on April 10 will make five stops, including at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic and EMS.

First, there are five counties – Love, Carter, Johnston, Marshall, and Murray – using the center on 16 NW in Ardmore.

But five was also the average number of interviews child victims of rape or serious physical abuse -- the type of assault likely to result in criminal charges – formerly endured before the center opened in 1998.

That year, investigators agreed to stop taking the victim from agency to agency and establish an evaluation site to which law enforcement and child welfare workers could travel instead. The goal was to reduce the number of interviews and further trauma to the child.

Key to developing the alliance was the establishment of the “child-friendly,” homelike Sara’s House, where children may be interviewed and the interview discreetly recorded.

The recording is made available to prosecutors and defenders in criminal cases and, in some cases, may substitute for a child’s courtroom appearance.

Poker Run for Children is a fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Center. This is a motorcycle event from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 with stops in all five counties to secure playing cards to make up a poker hand. The winning and worst hands receive prizes.

A record 200 motorcyclists are expected to participate in this year’s run, organizers say.

The run begins and ends at Mountain View Mall in Ardmore. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Pre-registration is going on now at 226-7283 or Pre-registrants receive a free t-shirt.

After previous stops in Davis, Tishomingo, and Madill, bikers will draw their fourth card at the Mercy Health/Love County clinic parking lot.

The hospital is a participant and consultant to the Love County Multidisciplinary Team of child welfare and law enforcement professionals who utilize the center in behalf of abused children from Love County.

The colorful motorcycles are expected to roar through Marietta, via Highway 32 east, beginning about 3 p.m. They will be greeted at the clinic by hospital volunteers and spectators, and receive refreshments as well as cheers.

Sponsorship of the stop is part of Child Abuse Prevention Month activities in Love County.

New to the event this year is a people’s choice bike show from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Mountain View Mall parking lot. Votes are $1 each and various categories of motorcycles will be entered.

The Child Advocacy Center (Sara’s House) is operated by the non-profit C/SARA Foundation of Ardmore, a United Way agency. Sissy Burge of Marietta is executive director of the foundation.

Pat Owens, a licensed family nurse practitioner with Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic and EMS, is a medical examiner for the center.

The Love County Multidisciplinary Team, established in 1998, is headed by assistant district attorney Paulé Wise and includes representatives from Marietta, Thackerville, and Love County law enforcement, child welfare workers, Mental Health Services of Southern Oklahoma, and Mercy Health/Love County.

In the first two months of 2010, 56 children have been interviewed at Sara’s House, all of them victims of sexual abuse, Burge said. A total of 217 children were served in 2009.

Sara’s House is available to authorities 24 hours a day. It contains interview and medical examining equipment.

Professionals at the center provide forensic interviewing services, rape examinations, and family and child counseling.

The Crisis Support and Resource Association (C/SARA) Foundation, Inc. was established in 1991 by Dr. Harry and Lynda Galoob.

It specializes in providing training and on-going consultation to people who respond to traumatic situations involving children.

Sara’s House, foundation headquarters and home of the Child Advocacy Center, honors the memory of Sara Galoob, a daughter of the founders.