A recent $20,000 gift from the CHI Health St. Francis Foundation and St. Francis Auxiliary is helping to protect area victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking. The group, in conjunction with the St. Francis Project Serenity campaign, recently acquired a CortexFlo forensic camera that uses an alternative light source to capture bruising below the skin before it’s visible to the naked eye.
Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) at St. Francis are trained to use the camera to collect medical evidence crucial in judicial proceedings. The new technology limits the need for additional trips to the hospital reducing the risk of re-traumatization for the victim. In addition, a single staff member can display an injury while also taking the photo, further protecting patient privacy.
Installed in September, the forensic camera has already been used in multiple assault cases.
"Many times, especially with strangulation, visible marks don’t show until a few days after. The ability to see the extent of an injury, right away, is helpful for law enforcement efforts in seeking an immediate protection order against the offender and building a solid case for potential prosecution. The goal is to quickly confirm evidence of violence, so we can keep the victim safe," says Brandi Stein, forensic nurse examiner at St. Francis.
Stein adds, "It’s also beneficial for the wellness of our victims. Instead of spending time holding the camera, now I can focus all my attention on my patient’s needs during this vulnerable time. The new technology provides more privacy, because I alone can operate the camera, and still have my hands free to position and comfort my patient. Seeing the damage before it appears is helpful for treatment and reassures my patient about their injuries from the very beginning. The sooner the patient can take back control of their own body, the sooner they can begin to heal."
Project Serenity has also provided funding for the education and certification of five FNEs at St. Francis. Through this project, St. Francis Foundation is embarking on a fundraising campaign to create a specially-equipped, private access FNE consultation and exam room at the hospital. Community education and outreach for violence awareness and prevention will also be provided through the foundation’s Project Serenity funding.
For more information about Project Serenity, please contact St. Francis Foundation at (308) 398-5400.
More about FNE at CHI Health St. Francis:
Studies show patients have better outcomes when seen by a forensic nurse. An important part of the FNE program at St. Francis is collaboration with community advocates, law enforcement, crime laboratories, the judicial system, members of the health system, and members of the community to provide a trauma-focused approach to care. This ensures the patient receives the necessary treatment and resources needed for recovery without re-victimization/re-traumatization. In the event of sexual assault, domestic violence, and/or human trafficking, the FNE provides: injury detection and treatment; health care pertaining to sexual assaults (sexually transmitted infection screening, pregnancy testing); forensic medical evidence collection; domestic violence crisis intervention; testimony in judicial proceeding; and community resource connection.
More about Cortexflo:
Cortexflo is easy to use, reliable and totally secure. It’s designed to meet the unique photographic and video requirements to conduct forensic medical examinations of children and adults who have suffered sexual and physical abuse. By incorporating innovative technologies, minimal photographic expertise is required to take in-focus, high quality photographs and videos. In addition, the system has been engineered to be used hands-free in situations which require the examiner to use both hands to display an injury.