Nearly 20% of the US population has experienced some form of violence. Sexual violence is a major cause of injury and trauma. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the US have experienced an attempted or completed rape an some time in their lives. Most victims of sexual assault know the attacker. Nationally, 73% of victims knew the attacker, in Kansas 90% knew the attacker (from NSVRC data and KBI data).
The forensic nurses at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph provide care to approximately 400 patients/year, the majority are victims of sexual assault, however we also work with victims of child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, and any violence related injuries.
State of the art equipment allows photo-document injuries and securely transfer them to law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney's office. The ability to provide images immediately to prosecutors has allowed several cases to be charged within 48 to 72 hours of the assault.
The program has recently been recognized by the Department of Justice for the quality of work and coordination of a community multidisciplinary response to victims of sexual exploitation - another area that people do not want to talk about, but is firmly entrenched in the community.
Sedgwick County has a very good rate of prosecution and conviction for these cases, and is the only community where a medical provider -Via Christi - has partnered with law enforcement to meet the unique needs of these victims.
With child abuse victims, the forensic nurses work in coordination with the Child Abuse Pediatrician Specialists, to provide immediate and follow up photo-documentation, and participate on the multidisciplinary team caring for the child.
Six of nurses are nationally certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners through the Forensic Nursing Certification Board.Training is regularly provided training for nurses from other communities in Kansas who are establishing SANE/SART programs. In fact, all other programs in Kansas have been "grown" from this one. The Via Christi Hospital on Harry program remains the program of choice for providing local and state training and guidance.