When Beth Stayer, 34, a registered nurse working at IU Health North Hospital was beaten to death by her ex-husband in 2009, her co-workers were shocked and grief stricken. IU Health Methodist Emergency Medicine and Trauma Center, where Beth was treated, turned the tragedy into a legacy of hope. A collaborate effort between IU Health Methodist Trauma Services and the Forensics unit aimed their goals at spreading awareness about the warning signs of domestic violence.
“The need for some sort of domestic violence program actually came up in a meeting the same day that Beth came into the emergency department,” says Lisa Heiden Peters, Registered Nurse at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. After Beth’s death, Lisa spearheaded Beth's Legacy of Hope, a program that trains nurses and social workers to be more aware of potential signs of abusive relationships among patients and peers. Lisa and other IU Health team members tried every avenue to get the program off the ground, but with help from Methodist Health Foundation (and IU Health Learning Solutions, IUH Methodist Trauma Services and Emergency Medicine department) the project finally came to fruition.
“The foundation allowed us the means to do this project and see it through,” says Katy Howe, Registered Nurse at IU Health Methodist Hospital. IU Health Learning Solutions, with the input of the team members of Beth’s Legacy of Hope, created a video to educate IU Health team members on Beth’s story and how to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence, both in their patients and in their peers. “When we showed the video to our staff, the response was incredible,” says Lisa. “Everyone was very touched and it was extremely well received.”
The goal in 2013 is to roll out the video to all Emergency Room departments and Labor and Delivery units within the IU Health system. In addition, the program aims to provide wrap-around services for patients, including immediate shelter, food, clothing and help with transportation for patients in immediate danger. Further training on domestic violence is also being provided to forensic nurse examiners and specialized crisis interventionists.
“We’ve taught all of our staff how to ask the proper questions, how to identify victims of domestic violence and what to look for,” explains Katy. In the future, once a domestic violence patient is identified, they will assigned an acuity level between one and five, with five representing a history of domestic violence, all the way up to 1, which indicates a patient is in immediate danger. “Already in 2013 forensic nurses have consulted with over 40 domestic violence patients, and we expect that number to go up as we incorporate numbers from our social workers.
To learn more about Beth’s Legacy of Hope, or if you are interested in viewing or sharing the educational video, contact Katy KHowe@iuhealth.org.