Chesterton Tribune



Franciscan Health is training forensic nurses

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In a person’s most painful moments, forensic nurses are a source of comfort, not only treating victims of violence, abuse and trauma, but giving them a voice.

During Forensic Nurses Week from Nov. 11-15, Franciscan Health is recognizing the difficult work these SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) nurses do in their Centers of Hope, designated spaces where victims are given one-on-one trauma care.

Forensic nursing is the application of the nursing process to public or legal proceedings and the application of forensic healthcare in the investigation of trauma or death related to abuse, violence, criminal activity, liability and accidents. Or as Michelle Resendez, RN, a coordinator for Franciscan Health, put it more succinctly: “It’s where healthcare and the law intersect.”

Each Franciscan facility recruits and invests in staff to attend training to be able to provide this very specialized service, with a current focus on pediatric SANE nurses. Franciscan Health Crown Point is offering a five-day intensive SANE adult/adolescent training course that instructs nurses in the following:

--Cultural sensitivity.

--Trauma-informed, victim-centered care.

--Injury identification.

--Evidence preservation.

--Forensic Photography.

--Forensic documentation

--An awareness of the acute and long-term effects of sexual violence.

--Courtroom and expert testimony.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute has a sex crimes victims fund that provides medical treatment and forensic services at no cost to victims. “No one should ever hesitate to come in for evaluation and services,” Resendez said. Time is of the essence because the window of evidence collection in the adult/adolescent population is five days and in pediatrics three days.

Franciscan Health’s Center of Hope Mission program provides community outreach and education, and works collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, including Sexual Assault Response Teams in Lake and LaPorte counties. Crown Point’s Center of Hope is currently the only facility in Lake County providing pediatric SANE examinations and the only facility that has a board-certified forensic nurse examiner on staff.

Stephanie Walker, RN, SANE nurse at Franciscan Health Crown Point agrees with the need to raise awareness. “This program is so important because this type of violence is so intimate and not easily talked about,” she said. “Sexual assault is something that every woman knows about but nearly none feel comfortable discussing.”



Posted 11/12/2019




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