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Guam doctor gets national recognition

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - As April gets underway, so does Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  One local doctor has received national attention for her dedication to sexual assault victims on Guam.

Dr. Ellen Bez, a consultant at the Healing Heart Clinic, is one of the 2010 recipients of the 2010 Visionary Voice Awards.  "I heard people had submitted my name," she recalled, "and I really hadn't been informed until I got the phone call this morning." 

The honor is presented by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the United States' largest resource center focusing on education and prevention of sexual violence.  Every April individuals across the country are recognized for the demonstrating outstanding advocacy to prevent sexual violence.  Dr. Bez says she is very proud Guam was recognized, saying, "On behalf of all of our partners that do this all the time we work 365 days a year in the trenches.  It's not just Healing Hearts, but government agencies, non-government agencies, and community partners."

Dr. Bez came to Guam in 1993, two years after Healing Hearts was founded.  She began as a volunteer at the crisis center and became a medical consultant in 1997.  

"I think it's wonderful to work with such a great woman," says Ann Rios, a nurse examiner of Bez.  "She recruited me back in 2003; it's nice to see people are recognizing her good deeds and where here heart has been for a long, long time."

Bez can be found this weekend at one of the many events held to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month - she will be at the Hagatna Library on Saturday from 10am to 12pm leading a body safety study hour for children.  "Here on island the unfortunately 85% of our victims are minors, so that is always a startling number," she explained.

The focus may be on Bez today, but she say her goal is to raise awareness about the Healing Hearts Crisis Center, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist victims of sexual assault.

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