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Wear blue to support Legacy’s fight against child abuse

April 18, 2022

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Bronwyn Houston tells the story of a 7-year-old girl referred to CARES Northwest for an urgent medical exam and interview due to concerns of child physical abuse. The girl’s school had been concerned about her appearance, and her statements about things her mother was doing to her.

The child was brought to CARES Northwest by a Department of Human Services case worker. The medical exam showed multiple patterned bruises, thin and sparse hair in places, a healing fracture of her forearm, and extremely short stature for her age. DHS placed the child in foster care, and over time, the trauma-focused, cognitive behavior therapy team at CARES Northwest discovered that the girl was being locked in a room and not allowed to eat.

The girl was removed from the home and after six months in foster care, the girl grew four inches. Bronwyn, who currently serves as the interim president at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center and president at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, said what people find most surprising about this story is the parents. The girl’s mother was a doctor and her father a geologist.

“On my first department tour of CARES Northwest in 2001, the medical director at the time, who I came to admire very much said to me ‘Bronwyn, child abuse happens in your neighborhood, and it happens in mine.”’ 

That’s why Bronwyn will be wearing blue on April 28 along with others at Legacy to show our support for Child Abuse Prevention Month. For more than a decade, Randall Children’s Hospital has been a regional leader in providing care to infants, children and teens in the Pacific Northwest. Randall is also one of Oregon’s largest providers of pediatric inpatient and trauma services.

CARES Northwest has been a critical partner in this care. Randall Children’s Hospital is the founding member that helped establish this 34-year-old agency along with Kaiser Permanente, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Providence, as well as Washington and Multnomah counties. CARES Northwest provides prevention education, support, medical treatment and therapy sessions to children who experience abuse and neglect. 

At Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, the Child Abuse Assessment Team serves a similar role as CARES Northwest. The CAAT specialists provide evaluations for neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse in a clinic environment.

Last year, CARES provided services to more than 1,700 children. Bronwyn sits on the CARES Northwest board of directors as Legacy’s representative. She said there is clear evidence that shows children who suffer adverse childhood trauma, as adults, experience physical and mental illness at a higher rate than their peers. Legacy, along with CARES Northwest, is dedicated to breaking that cycle of abuse.

“CARES Northwest is a national leader and shining example of how to collaborate to provide the very best for children by giving them the opportunity to rewire their mind and body, after the trauma and before illness,” said Bronwyn.

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