Liberty-Dayton RMC advances County’s ability to assist sexual assault victims

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center's Assistant Nursing Director Kristen Gerlich and Nursing Clinical Coordinator Penni Roberts (pictured at left, and Kim Zemanek and Kayce Ward with Tex-TRAC stand alongside one of the telehealth carts that Tex-TRAC has established at Liberty-Dayton RMC to assist sexual assault victims ages 13 and older.

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center, through a partnership with Tex-TRAC (the Texas Teleforensic Remote Assistance Center), is now able to assist sexual assault victims ages 13 and older with the comprehensive testing required to investigate and prosecute their cases through the legal system.

The Liberty hospital is one of only three sites in the state picked for the pilot program, the others being at Uvalde Memorial Hospital in Uvalde, Texas, and Doctors Renaissance Hospital in Edinburgh, Texas.

Currently, sexual assault victims in Liberty County have to be transported outside of the county to metropolitan hospitals by either EMS, law enforcement or private vehicle, compounding the stress that is perpetrated on the victim and preventing first responders from returning to their duties sooner.

Tex-TRAC, part of the Texas A&M Health Center of Excellence in Forensic Nursing, was established with federal grant funding from the Office for Victims of Crime to provide a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) telehealth program to serve rural and underserved communities in Texas.

Using telehealth carts with specially-designed software, Tex-TRAC clinicians provide a seamless interaction with the nurses and the victims during sexual assault examinations. The clinicians, via an Internet connection, can advise and assist nurses as they conduct the lengthy sexual assault exams, which are known to take up to six hours to complete.

When approached about the program, Liberty-Dayton RMC administrators showed an immediate interest in participating due to the need in the community.

“Liberty-Dayton hospital had a willingness to be part of the program,” said Kayce Ward, forensic nurse manager for Tex-TRAC. “In Liberty, we have been well-received and welcomed. You have to have a hospital who is willing to buy into the program.”

Being part of the pilot program required the hospital to dedicate a hospital exam room for sexual assault examinations. It also meant ensuring that a nurse trained for the program be on duty 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. With six LDRMC nurses trained, two of whom are actual SANE-trained nurses through Texas A&M University, the hospital was ideal for the program.

“We have three more nurses who will be trained to use the tele-health carts and I have several who will be going through the SANE program at Texas A&M University,” said Kristine Gerlich, LDRMC Chief Nursing Officer.

Tex-TRAC hopes to add another 10-13 sites by the end of 2022 and is looking to expand the exams to pediatric victims in the future. For now though, pediatric sexual assault victims must be tested at other hospitals and emergency rooms.

For more on Tex-TRAC, go online to https://tex-trac.tamu.edu/. For more information on Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center, go online to http://www.libertydaytonrmc.com/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.