OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Overland Park Regional Medical Center is adding nurses who have special training in helping victims of sexual assault. They’re considered crucial for detectives trying to bring attackers to justice.
There are ten hospitals on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area that provide these specially trained nurses. Some say a victim who walks into a hospital that doesn’t have one of these specially trained nurses can be traumatized twice.
An exam room at a hospital looks the same as any other to many people seeking treatment. Although many emergency rooms have similar equipment, the care patients receive is not the same, particularly for victims of sexual assault. Often times a detective will want rape victims to be examined by a sexual assault nurse examiner. That can mean leaving the closest hospital to go some place else.
“Sometimes the hardest part is just to walk in and say this has happened to me,” said Jennifer Johnson. “And they say we can provide an exam but we don’t have the specialized training. They have to go someplace else, that can be a traumatic to the patient.”
Jennifer Johnson is a sexual assault nurse examiner at Shawnee Mission Medical Center. She says the hospital provided 175 forensic exams to victims of sexual assault in 2011. In the last six months, at least 10 patients have gone to the hospital after being seen at a different hospital that couldn’t provide the specialized treatment and evidence gathering first.
“A lot of survivors will contact us first and say this happened. what are my options where do I go? what do I do from here? Get correct information they need and support that’s so important,” said Angie Blumel.
The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault says it tries to provide as much information as possible so victims can choose the best possible place to go for treatment. Nearly everyone agrees it will be good to have another hospital available with the specially trained nurses on duty.
In 2011, MOCSA helped 678 survivors of sexual violence during their forensic exams. So far in 2012, the group has already helped 489 victims with these exams.