The Center of Hope at IU Health Arnett recently celebrated a year of providing personal care to patients who are victims of abuse.
By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, firstname.lastname@example.org
They come through the hospital doors at all hours – some covered in blood, bruised, and blurry-eyed. Their tears are a cry for help. They need a safe place and someone they can trust.
For months, Megan Shupe, a nurse with IU Health Arnett Hospital spent countless hours researching statistics and gathering support and resources to create that safe place. She met with fire fighters, prosecutors, police officers, paramedics, nurses, and doctors talking about victims of abuse. Specifically, Shupe wanted to create the West Central Region’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. With a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute last November, the Center for Hope opened its doors.
Emergency rooms – secluded from the mainstream – provide an area for victims of sexual assault and abuse to meet privately with specially trained examiners. The patients are consoled, evidence is collected, and showers are provided along with fresh clothing. There are currently two nurses available to take calls independently and an additional 11 nurses who are working to complete their forensic training
Practitioners recently joined in a candlelight service to commemorate the first year of around-the-clock care for victims. Seventy-one candles were lighted for the 71 victims treated in the past year. Fourteen were less than 18 years old. Two were physical child abuse cases and others were victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“The biggest surprise to me in the past year has been the patient responses,” said Shupe. “I have been in total amazement of the courage and strength displayed by the patients and that even during a very difficult time, they are able to express gratitude and show kindness.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report one in four women and one in nine men have been a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. One in three women and one in six men have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. One in four children have been the victim of abuse or neglect.
“Violence is a national and local healthcare concern,” said Shupe. “Patients affected by violence need specialized care for a multitude of reasons and forensic nurses have the additional training required to provide that level of care. The goal for every hospital should be to provide the services needed without requiring the patient to transfer to another hospital. Forensic Nurses are the Gold Standard of care and it is vital because our patients deserve this specialized care that is truly designed for them. “
Headquartered at IU Health Arnett Hospital the program also serves surrounding areas including IU Health White Memorial, and Frankfort hospitals.