forensic nurses

On a Mission for Advocacy and Justice

Twenty-four hours a day, forensic nurses at Community’s Center of Hope serve victims of violence, abuse and neglect who visit a Community Emergency Department (ED) in the Indianapolis region. In 2018, this team of nurses served nearly 1,300 victims – a 40 percent increase in victims of domestic violence and a 15 percent increase in sexual assault victims – the majority of whom are female and fall between the ages of 15 and 28.

As forensic nurses, their training – supported by donors to Community Health Network Foundation – has prepared them for nearly every situation they might encounter. After completing an extensive online training course, each nurse also undergoes 12 weeks of orientation. They are trained on the legal system and how to recognize, assess and document injuries. They learn to collect DNA evidence, offer testimony in court and effectively communicate with law enforcement authorities.

Above all, they offer highly specialized, compassionate care to the patients – like Mandy – who turn to them for help after trauma.

What Happens?

When a patient presents at the ED requiring the support of a forensic nurse, they are brought to the Center of Hope. There, the forensic nurse’s role begins, asking questions to learn about the situation and leading an extensive and meticulous exam. It can take several hours, with photographs taken and evidence collected in a precise, scientific manner. Depending on the situation, Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services or law enforcement may be involved, and the Center of Hope nurse becomes a support to the patient during interviews with authorities.

This work is emotionally and mentally draining, but Community’s forensic nurses are driven by a passion to serve others in a time of intense need. And the evidence they collect often has impact; Community’s Center of Hope nurses have been involved in several high profile cases – including providing DNA evidence that resulted in the convictions of a local prosecutor and a serial rapist.

You Can Help

As needs arise, the Center of Hope often turns to Foundation donors for support. Gifts help make possible:

  • Intensive training for new forensic nurses and continued education on the latest techniques used in forensic nursing
  • Free medication – that would otherwise cost upwards of $3,000 per patient – to prevent the transmission of HIV for victims of sexual assault
  • Policy development and awareness building among Community caregivers for identifying and caring for victims of human trafficking
  • State-of-the-art photography equipment to ensure high-quality evidence can be captured and securely transferred to the reporting system used by law enforcement authorities
  • A four-day training hosted by Community’s Center of Hope this summer for physicians, nurses, law enforcement, paramedics and more from across the Midwest to learn about caring for patients suffering from strangulation – a major issue in cases of domestic violence

If you would like to support this work, consider a gift designated to women’s care to Community Health Network Foundation.