Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems Pediatrician Speaks During Child Abuse Symposium

Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems’ pediatrician, Dr. Gayle Bates, in collaboration with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Highlands Community Services in Bristol, Va. was showcased during Ballad Health and East Tennessee State University’s Health Education Learning Program for Sexual Assault in Rural Appalachia (HELP-SARA), Child Abuse Symposium.

The Child Abuse Symposium was held at Bristol Regional Medical Center on Friday, April 5, 2024, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with special guest speaks and breakout sessions for agencies in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee to attend and learn more about resources within the area.

Dr. Bates has been working with the Children’s Advocacy Center for over five years and providing exams to child abuse and pediatric sexual assault victims of the City of Bristol, Washington County, and Smyth County at Bristol Community Health Center in Bristol, Va.

Last year, Dr. Bates connected the Children’s Advocacy Center with Dr. Jennifer Andrews at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. to provide after-hours facility hours for abuse cases on nights and weekends. This connection was following a grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services that recognized that Southwest Virginia was lacking resources to provide for children in abusive situations. 

Currently, Dr. Bates works closely with the Children’s Advocacy Center on advising what supplies and equipment would be most helpful in setting up this type of clinic, while also allowing their prospective Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurses to shadow her on cases when she can. Dr. Bates will remain the first call for cases that can be seen during regular business hours.

At the symposium, Dr. Bates was on the Children Advocacy Center Panel that was moderated by Suzanne Eller, BSN, RN, PED-BC. This panel included other members of Children’s Advocacy Centers across the region, who discussed their experiences and roles within their organizations.

Dr. Bates discussed her usual approach to the examination of a child who has experienced some form of child abuse or sexual abuse.  Dr. Bates describes these exams as a form of a check-up to the children to ease their nerves some to ensure she is able to perform a thorough exam.

SVCHS has community health centers in Meadowview, Va., Saltville, Va., Bristol, Va., and Tazewell, Va., along with pediatric services in Bristol, Va. and Tazewell, Va. SVCHS is currently accepting new pediatric patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.