Forensic Nursing Services
Forensic nursing is a unique specialty that blends the worlds of nursing, science, and the legal system and is accessible 24/7 at Salina Regional Health Center. This page will explain the role of a forensic nurse, what to expect during a sexual assault examination, how to preserve DNA evidence following an assault, the rights of victims of sexual assault, as well as provide educational resources for public awareness and prevention.
What is a Forensic Nurse?
A forensic nurse takes care of patients who have been victims of a crime or who may have contact with the legal system. Salina Regional forensic nurses are specially trained to provide compassionate care in conducting examinations on any age patient. Our nurses have extensive training in collecting detailed medical and event history, head-to-toe examinations, detailed genital examinations, forensic evidence collection, photo documentation of injuries and providing court testimonies as needed in response to any of the following events:
- Sexual assault
- Non-Fatal Strangulation (choking)
- Interpersonal Violence
- Domestic Abuse
- Child Abuse/Neglect
- Elder Abuse/Neglect
- Human Sex Trafficking
- Gunshot Wounds
- Suspect Examinations
Sexual Assault Examination
During a sexual assault examination, patients can expect that a forensic nurse will:
- Give compassionate care
- Maintain privacy
- Take a complete history
- Seek informed consent
- Explain everything about the examination
- Conduct a head-to-toe examination
- Conduct a detailed genital examination
- Collect evidence as indicated
- Do lab work, if needed
- Discuss and/or provide preventative medication options
- Provide follow-up options
- Provide community resources
Preserving DNA Evidence
Evidence preservation following a sexual assault is important to building a case and assisting forensic nurses and law enforcement. Patients should refrain from showering or bathing until they come to the hospital to be examined.
- Do NOT drink any liquids
- Do NOT brush your teeth
- Do NOT use mouthwash
- Do NOT take a shower
- Do NOT take a bath
- Do NOT douche (flush the vagina)
- Do NOT change your clothes
- Do NOT urinate (if at all possible)
- Do NOT have a bowel movement
Bring any other items related to the assault with you to the hospital or give them to law enforcement.
Rights of Victims of Sexual Assault
According to Kansas Statutes, patients 18 years of age and older have the right to a sexual assault examination whether they report to law enforcement or not – this means that they can be examined, have evidence collected and be treated without notifying law enforcement. The evidence collected will be held by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations for five years, should you change your mind later and decide to report to law enforcement.
By law, patients under the age of 18 may not report anonymously, in which case law enforcement must be notified by forensic nurses.
Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas (DVACK)
DVACK serves victims 16 years of age and older, providing comfort and support with respect, dignity and compassion. All services are confidential and free. DVACK educates victims and their support system and connects them with community resources. DVACK may be present during all phases of a forensic investigation.
24-HOUR HOTLINE: 1-800-874-1499
SALINA OFFICE: 785-827-5862
CONCORDIA OFFICE: 785-243-4349
EMERGENCY NUMBER: 911
Child Advocacy and Parenting Services (CAPS)
CAPS serves victims under 18 years of age. Their mission: Improving children’s lives and strengthening families through education advocacy and support to create a world where every child is happy, healthy and strong. CAPS may be present during all phases of a forensic investigation.
PHONE NUMBER: 785-825-4493
Chris's Place Child Advocacy Center
Chris’s Place pursues justice for abused children, offering 24-hour support and advocacy for children reporting their abuse to law enforcement or in a medical emergency. Interviews are conducted in a child-friendly environment with developmentally appropriate forensic interviews for victims of sexual abuse and severe physical abuse. It is a standalone, community-based facility, serving all ages.
PHONE NUMBER: 785-452-9782
A county attorney looks at the facts of a forensic case and files charges. He or she builds rapport with a victim and their family and prosecutes for the State. Forensic nurses work with county attorneys all across Kansas, as well as the Attorney General’s Office.
Department for Children and Families (DCF)
DCF is the agency that steps in when children and their parents and guardians do not have other family members to support them, or when their needs are so great that family members cannot manage alone. In other cases, DCF provides temporary support to help people get back on their feet after an unexpected life event occurs. In forensic nursing, DCF is notified on all victims under the age of 18.
Forensic Nurses work with law enforcement in many counties in Kansas. Locally, we work with the Salina Police Department and the Saline County Sheriff’s Department. We also work with the Kansas Bureau of Investigations.
Resources for Public Awareness & Prevention
Safety begins with education and awareness. With Kansas being among one of the top States in the U.S. for human sex trafficking, these kinds of dangers are closer to home than you may think. Learn to better protect yourself and your loved ones by being informed.
Karen Groot, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P
Forensic Nursing Services Coordinator
Initial and continued funding for this program is provided by Salina Regional Health Center, Salina Regional Foundation, Community Health Investment Program, Child Advocacy and Parenting Services, Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas, Earl Bane Foundation, Department for Children and Families, City of Salina, Saline County, Salina Area United Way, Oneok Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Salina, Altrusa International, AMBUCS, Kansas Wesleyan University Business classes, Bethany College Alpha Theta Chi and individual donors.