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Forensic nurses offer trauma-informed care

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023   

Sexual assault survivors in rural Ohio may have to travel hours to get a forensic exam.

During National Forensic Nurses Week, Ohio advocates say they're working to expand access to these trained professionals who can offer trauma-informed care.

Tammy Robertson, statewide director of forensic nursing for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said beyond a medical exam, forensic nurses can provide courtroom testimony, and assist patients in ways other health care professionals typically do not. She wants survivors of sexual assault, elder abuse, domestic violence, child abuse or human trafficking to know some hospitals have forensic nurses on staff.

"And, at least if the hospitals are unaware of that program, or doesn't have a program, they can potentially reach out to a surrounding hospital and get that patient services," Robertson advised.

Robertson added advocates are working to educate community partners, including law enforcement, prosecutors, child protective services and others about the resources forensic nurses provide.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis or needs help, call the Ohio Sexual Violence Helpline at 844-644-6435, 24 hours a day, seven days week.

Robertson pointed out the holistic approach to care and support forensic nurses offer has been shown to improve survivor outcomes.

"There is, statistically, shown that there is a better healing outcome for those patients who receive care from a forensic nurse," Robertson noted.

Nationwide, between 17% and 20% of hospitals have a sexual assault examiner or forensic nurse available, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

Disclosure: The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault, Health Issues, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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