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Providing emergency services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and other violent crimes requires special training and skills.
To help Hoosiers who have experienced these form of trauma, IU Health has established seven Centers of Hope around the state. These centers provide patients with specialized trauma-informed care and forensic examinations, which includes collecting evidence that’s admissible in court.
Currently, the Center of Hope program provides services for trauma victims at IU Health Methodist Hospital, IU Health Arnett Hospital, IU Health Frankfort Hospital, IU Health White Memorial Hospital, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, IU Health Bloomington Hospital and IU Health Bedford Hospital.
While philanthropy has played a key role in expanding the program, there’s still more that could be done.
Barb Bachmeier, a nurse practitioner and forensic nurse who helped start the first Center of Hope at IU Health Methodist Hospital 23 years ago, dreams of starting an interpersonal violence clinic where her team would provide primary, secondary and tertiary care for victims.
“I’d like to see more follow-up services and help victims with the aftermath,” Bachmeier said. “I’d like to ask how they’re sleeping, if they’ve accessed counseling services, and whether they’ve made an appointment with their primary physician or been in touch with their detective. Those things are all so important for healing, but we don’t have the capacity to do them now.”
Natalie Calow is a forensic nurse who works alongside Bachmeier at IU Health Methodist Hospital. She said the follow-up clinics would be especially beneficial for patients who built a rapport with team members during the exam and therefore would be more open to a follow-up that can aid so much in healing.
She’d also like to see Centers of Hope in all IU Health hospitals.
“It’s not ideal for a patient who’s experienced an assault to come into an ER and be told they have to wait for an on-call forensic nurse to come in to treat them or, worse, that they have to travel an hour or two to a get to a facility where there is a forensic nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Calow.
In crisis situations, patients need help immediately. They’re already traumatized, and if they are told they have to wait or drive elsewhere, they often just go home and don’t seek treatment at all.
Finally, Calow says she’d like to see funding for professional development. “Laws are changing constantly, as are techniques for collecting evidence. It’s important we stay up to date,” she says.
It takes passionate team members who are eager to help people who have experienced trauma. Thankfully, IU Health is full of passionate people.
If you would like to support our Centers of Hope, which provide care for victims of all forms of trauma, click here. Once directed to the site, select "Other" under "Please Direct My Gift To" and then type "Center of Hope."