The Need for SAFE Nurses/The need for a SAFE program
In 1995 Doylestown Hospital conducted a survey to access and meet the needs of an expanding community. One area of need identified was the care of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and child abuse and neglect. Traditionally, victims are examined and treated in a busy emergency department by physicians. High patient volumes and extremely ill patients do not always allow the ED physicians or nurses to give the time and compassion a sexual assault or victim of violence needs. Evidence collection, which is part of the initial exam, and meticulous documentation of any findings are crucial in sexual assault cases and cases of physical abuse. Therefore, the process should be without interruption by trained and experienced staff. A safe, non-judgmental environment needed to be established for victims of sexual assault or violence with trained professional medical personnel who could complete the examination and treatment without interruption.
After the community survey pinpointed sexual assault and domestic violence as an area of need, nurses of the Emergency Department decided to institute a program they had read about: SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner). These nurses are specially trained to examine and treat victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and child abuse with the support of Emergency Department physicians. SAFE nurses also interview the victim, collect evidence, document findings and give testimony in court.
Since the inception of the SAFE program at Doylestown Hospital, many victims have been examined and treated with expertise, compassion and respect. Victims are given control of the situation. SAFE nurses are specially trained in the medical and legal aspects of caring for victims of violence. The SAFE nurses work very closely with the Bucks County Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA). A NOVA volunteer is available, if the victim consents, to be an advocate and support for the victim from the first encounter to legal proceedings. We have had excellent responses to this program from the victims, the community, the medical community and the legal community. As a team, we are able to provide these victims with the treatment and care they need in an environment that helps them regain their dignity.
Our goal is to provide a responsive healing environment for the sexually assaulted victims or victims of violence of our community with the ultimate goal of restoring the human dignity that these victims have had taken from them.
The exam is given at no cost to the victim and is completely confidential.
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or elder or child abuse, you are encouraged to consult with a SAFE nurse.
Call 215-345-2280 to get help.