Five Scottsdale Healthcare nurses have been certified as sexual assault nurse examiners, training that provides for better treatment of rape victims and better collection of evidence used to prosecute assailants.
Registered nurses Kim Yedowitz, Karyn Rasile, Connie Sloan, Kori Kreiner and Marvi Howard recently received national certification from the Forensic Nurse Examination Board.
The nurses completed about 110 hours, or 12 to 18 months of classroom work, clinical training and a practicum, where the nurses were observed collecting evidence.
"We do all this to ensure we do it correctly so that we can prosecute those who sexually assault," Yedowitz said, adding that four more nurses have been hired who are expected to earn the expert designation.
Scottsdale sexual assault detective Chris Hall said that expert collection of evidence is key to increased sexual assault prosecutions in Maricopa and Pinal counties since certified nurses began working with police forces in 1999.
"Prior to then, the wrong people were collecting evidence," Hall said.
"We were doing it all wrong — a nurse would read the directions of the rape kit to another nurse or a doctor," Yedowitz said. "It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We just weren’t trained properly."
The lack of training went further than evidence collection to include how patients were treated.
"We worked on the old stereotypes of sexual assault victims," Yedowitz said. "The truth is most victims don’t come in wearing tattered clothes and bruises. They look normal, and so we tended to overlook how they were feeling."
That’s all in the past, though, thanks to Yedowitz’s efforts and Scottsdale Healthcare’s creation of a Family Advocacy Center that serves Scottsdale and surrounding communities. The center houses sexual assault detectives, support agencies and the certified forensic nurses so sexual assault victims are treated compassionately and as quickly as possible — all under one roof.
"Before the creation of this center we’d take victims to the ER where they might sit for hours and then to the police station to file reports," Hall said.