WELLINGTON — The Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center’s Sumner County office, 204 S. Washington Ave., reopened Monday in Wellington after having had to close its office last March with the onset of COVID-19.
The center’s doors initially reopened in August but had to close again temporarily due to a positive coronavirus case that affected one of its staff members.
Kami Dobbs, director of outreach counties for the center, said that since reopening, the center has been hearing more from people experiencing financial hardships not directly related to sexual or domestic violence, Dobbs said.
"We are here to provide a variety of services based on what each individual needs and most importantly our services are free and confidential," Dobbs said.
The 24-hour hotline for the Wellington branch of the WASAC is 620-440-3700.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the WASAC has continued providing services to survivors over the phone and through online platforms, such as Zoom and Doxy.me, for those who had access to and were interested in online services, Dobbs said.
"It absolutely is easier to provide services when you can work with a survivor face to face in most situations," Dobbs said. "However, the pandemic allowed us to be more forward thinking in the way in which we provide services and some of the barriers we really had not thought about before."
The office has put precautions in place to be as safe as possible, Dobbs said. Staff are required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked each morning at the door. They are also asking anyone who enters their offices to wear face masks, and the WASAC has those readily available to give out to anyone who may be in need, Dobbs said.
There is signage in the offices asking people to comply with wearing face masks and reminding them to socially distance. Staff has marked off 6 feet of space in certain areas of the offices to help with establishing a safe distance between people.
Sumner County advocates are Haley Nickelson and Monica DeCoudres. Kay Cartee is the therapist for sexual assault survivors and she works in both counties. Dobbs is the director of outreach counties and works in both counties as well.
The center’s services include safety planning, supportive/crisis counseling, law enforcement advocacy, medical advocacy, court advocacy, educational programming and support groups. There is also a Spanish-speaking advocate available and a therapist for sexual assault survivors.