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BOUNTIFUL HOSPITAL WILL DONATE PAYMENTS TO RAPE CENTER

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The financially troubled Salt Lake Rape Crisis Center will get a boost in funds from Lakeview Hospital.

But other hospitals, already losing money treating rape victims, say it's time for communities - not medical facilities - to give the center a much-needed financial shot in the arm.At a press conference Wednesday, Lakeview officials announced they will donate to the center the $100 payment the hospital receives from any law enforcement agency for the medical examination of each rape victim. They challenged other hospitals that assist rape victims to follow suit.

But two of the three Salt Lake Valley hospitals that treat rape victims say Lakeview can afford to be generous with the reimbursement funds - but they can't.

Lakeview treats about 10 victims a year in South Davis County, so the hospital's annual contribution to the center will amount to about $1,000. Primary Children's Medical Center, on the other hand, treats about 350 to 400 sexually abused children annually - which could amount to a $40,000 contribution to the center.

Last year Primary incurred costs of over $305,274 in treating sexually abused children.

"We received payments of $122,000, which means we absorbed - wrote off as a bad debt - $183,274," said Howard Noel, director of public relations. "After reviewing that, we felt that inasmuch as we have to absorb such a high percentage, we are not in a position to subsidize other worthy organizations." Holy Cross officials helped develop the Rape Crisis Center and have "supported it to the hilt for 13 years" - despite also losing revenue.

According to Dr. Michael C. Romney, medical director of the hospital's emergency department, Holy Cross' fixed cost for a medical rape examination is $270. Law enforcement agencies, which contract with Holy Cross and St. Mark's Hospital to do the exams, pay $100 per patient for evidence collection.

The medical facilities absorb the remaining $170 per patient. And, already this year 184 rape victims have been treated in the Salt Lake County hospitals alone.

Romney believes Lakeview Hospital's challenge is "a nice gesture," but hospitals "shouldn't be left holding the bag" for communities that don't give adequate financial support to the Rape Crisis Center.

Funding for the Salt Lake Rape Crisis Center was decreased by 50 percent by the Salt Lake County Department of Human Services. Christine Watters, director, said the center needs to raise at least $25,000 to maintain the services it now offers.

Watters said center employees and volunteers were hoping to find some means by which doctors and the medical personnel "who value our services could help us out."