terça-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2009

Forensic nurses seek a greater role to assist in combating rising crime

Bermuda's forensic nurses say they could be utilised to help tackle escalating violence in the community.
The four nurses who form part of the Island's Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) believe their skills could be used more widely for preventive purposes.
At the moment, Gaynelle Hayward, Judith Brewster, Olga Craine-Carmichael and Susan Pedro, deal only with victims of sexual assault when called out by the Police to the SART room at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
But they told The Royal Gazette there is much more they and other forensic nurses could be doing to tackle all kinds of violence in Bermuda, including going into schools to educate youngsters and teachers, mediation and working more closely with vulnerable families in the community.
They would also like to see a forensic nurse permanently on duty in the emergency room at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Interim SART coordinator Mrs. Hayward said: "I think there needs to be greater coordination in terms of partnering with the other agencies. Violence is a major issue."

Mrs. Craine-Carmichael said: "I think violence is a health care issue. We need to address violence as a whole from a forensic perspective. Sexual assault is just a small part of it. I think our wish is to make the community as a whole more aware."
Forensic nurses in other countries deal with a myriad of issues, including child and senior abuse and neglect, death investigation, accident reconstruction, grief counselling and all forms of domestic violence, including intimate partner violence.

But in Bermuda, they work solely with Police, the Women's Resource Centre and the Physical Abuse Centre as part of SART, typically dealing with about five incidents a month. So far this year, they have responded to 18 cases.

Ms Brewster said there were seven forensic nurses when SART was launched a decade ago, but now only four. "It has always been understaffed," she said.

She said the nurses could be doing a lot to target the Island's boys, ensuring that they are not entrenched in a patriarchal, dominant mindset at an early age which may lead them to become violent.

"If the dominant role is already identified at grade one, then that's where we get started. As health visitors, we have access into the homes."

She added: "It needs the community, the Government, the DPP's (Department of Public Prosecutions) office to look at prevention. Prevention is the key.

"At the moment we are reactive, but we want to offer primary health care, we want to prevent. We are not sure if we can stop it, but we can decrease (it)."

The team spoke out after taking part in the first Forensic Nurses' Week, organised by the International Association of Forensic Nurses from November 9 to 13. The theme of the week was: Violence is a Health Care Issue."

Mrs. Craine-Carmichael said: "We are in a position to educate, consult, teach. Our role is to help educate, connect and integrate with all the other partners. Everything is intertwined."