Program to assist sexual assault victims returns to UTMC

December 7, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Feliza Casano

A program at The University of Toledo Medical Center that assists victims of sexual assault with their immediate health needs as well as gathers forensic evidence for prosecution is back.

Trisha Appelhans, coordinator of the Sexual Assault Program, talked with Brad Thomas, staff nurse in the Emergency Department.

The Sexual Assault Program in the UTMC Emergency Department gives nurses the training to assist victims of sexual assault and aid in the support and investigation process. Staff members take photographs, provide treatment, and gather forensic evidence for prosecution, among other tasks.

“It’s especially important to have a Sexual Assault Program since this is a university hospital. We wouldn’t want a student who was assaulted to come to the University to get help prosecuting the person who did it, but then have to be sent elsewhere,” said Trisha Appelhans, coordinator of the Sexual Assault Program in the UTMC Emergency Department. “It’s very important we once again have this capability. The program helps in transitioning the victim full circle, including ways to help the victim cope with the assault.”

The program has three trained and on-call staff nurses, and Appelhans said the program is training and will add several more staff members this month.

“Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of backing from the local YWCA and the administration here. They’ve been very supportive,” she said. “We even have our own space for the exam to take place now.”

“The Sexual Assault Program is clearly an excellent program, ensuring the people at UT get correct and appropriate evaluations, which was the goal of the project from the beginning,” said Dr. Kristopher Brickman, associate professor and chair of the UT Department of Emergency Medicine. “This program ensures that we don’t miss steps in the evaluation process and makes sure all patients are covered in managing these difficult situations.”

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