Friday, February 14, 2020

Our New SAFE Space

The statistics in Maryland are alarming. It has been reported that one out of every five adult women has been the victim of rape during her lifetime and there were 15,301 domestic violence-related crimes in Maryland in 2016. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline statistics, there were over 300 victims of human trafficking identified in Maryland in 2018.

This past October, our Sexual Assault Forensic Evaluation (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) Program saw more patients than any other month in its history. In the final three months of last year, our SAFE and DV nurses performed 74 forensic examinations (an 80% increase from 2018) and cared for 112 domestic violence patients (a 45% increase from 2018). Unfortunately, these numbers continue to increase, and victims need to know that they have a protected place to come for help.

Earlier this week, our SAFE and DV Program officially opened its new location to help meet this growing need. The new unit will offer patients a unique setting for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

The more than 2,500-square-foot facility has two exam rooms with everything needed to provide the highest quality of care to patients. Each room is equipped with an array of diagnostic tests that a forensic nurse examiner will administer as needed, allowing them to be present with the patient throughout the entire assessment.

The new unit also has an interview room that includes audio-video capability along with additional security measures to ensure that victim privacy is protected, and that chain of custody is maintained. The room provides a private and secure space where specially trained staff from organizations such as Baltimore County’s Child Advocacy Center and the Special Victims Unit as well as forensic interviewers and Crimes Against Children Unit detectives can interview victims. These interviews can now be conducted in a confidential, non-judgement atmosphere at no cost to the patient.

GBMC HealthCare has been a key player in the movement of providing compassionate and empathetic advocacy and in getting justice for victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. Since 2016, the program has helped, on average, 370 victims of intimate partner violence and 280 victims of sexual assault annually. Since April 2019, it has cared for 15 victims of human trafficking.

The growth of the SAFE and DV Program has brought new challenges that this unit will help us address. It has the capacity to accommodate victims with disabilities and creates an environment where our nurses can provide both physical and psychological care to all patients. I want to thank Laura Clary, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE, our SAFE clinical program manager, Ashley McAree, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, our human trafficking liaison, Valerie Weir, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, CMSRN, coordinator for GBMC’s domestic violence program, and all our forensic nurses and victim advocates who do so much for our patients.

The Netflix Series “YOU”
There is a very popular American psychological thriller series on Netflix, entitled “You.” For those of you that are not familiar with the show, it deals with a fictional serial killer, Joe Goldberg, who falls in love with a young lady and develops an extreme, toxic, and delusional obsession with her. He uses social media and other technology to track her presence and remove obstacles to their perceived romance.

The show gives you an inside look at abusive behavior and dating violence, two issues, among many, that our SAFE & DV Program see on a consistent basis. The assessment and treatment of these victims is very complex. Expertise and caring are required not only to address the medical and psychological needs of the patient but also to complete the forensic work necessary to aid law enforcement in the identification of the perpetrator and to see that justice is served. Under the leadership of Laura Clary, our SAFE program is growing and expanding in new directions, helping us to better meet our mission of health, healing, and hope for those in our community and our vision of serving everyone the way we want our own loved ones served.

I won’t spoil it for those who are watching the first or second season of the show, however I encourage you to read this interesting op-ed, written by our very own Briana “Bri” Rogers, one of our marketing communications coordinators, that was recently printed in the Baltimore Sun. Click here to read her piece. Nice job, Bri!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking time to read "A Healthy Dialogue" and for commenting on the blog. Comments are an important part of the public dialogue and help facilitate conversation. All comments are reviewed before posting to ensure posts are not off-topic, do not violate patient confidentiality, and are civil. Differing opinions are welcome as long as the tone is respectful.