WMC nurses trained to help survivors of sexual assault

Released: 04/07/17

Winneshiek Medical Center’s specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners provide physical exams to survivors of sexual assault through the WMC Emergency Department. These special exams maintain the survivor’s personal dignity, while collecting the evidence needed should the survivor choose to press charges on their assailant. Pictured: Amy Pfister, RN, BSN (standing) and Elizabeth Pfile, RN, BSN (seated).

No one ever expects to be sexually assaulted. But sexual assault happens at alarmingly high rates in every community. According to the University of Iowa Rape Victim Advocacy Program, every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. During National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, a team of Winneshiek Medical Center nurses wants to get the word out that resources are available to survivors and that local people are trained to help.

“From nursing to advocates to law enforcement, there is a network of people that come together to help survivors of sexual assault in Winneshiek County,” says Amy Pfister, RN, BSN. Amy is also a WMC sexual assault nurse examiner, which means she will provide a physical exam that will maintain the survivor’s personal dignity, while collecting the evidence needed should the survivor choose to press charges on their assailant.

Amy, along with fellow sexual assault nurse examiner Elizabeth Pfile, RN, BSN, provides care for survivors of sexual assault through the Winneshiek Medical Center Emergency Department. Elizabeth says, “If someone is a survivor of sexual assault, we want them to come to the WMC Emergency Department within five days of the assault for an exam. The exam is provided free of charge to the survivor, and we can connect them with resources who will help begin the healing process.” Elizabeth stresses, “The Emergency Department is a safe place to go, whether or not a survivor wants to report the crime or press charges.”

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners undergo a rigorous training process to obtain the skills needed for this important and sensitive service. All WMC examiners requested to receive this training as a way to serve their community. “I want to be able to help people when they are most vulnerable,” says Amy. “As a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, I can serve our community in a unique way.”

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