Waldo County General Hospital Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (S.A.F.E.) Mary Ann Ordelt, RN recently received the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner of the year Award at the annual MECASA Celebration and Awards Ceremony on April 3.
The MECASA Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Award goes to a S.A.F.E. or S.A.N.E. (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) who demonstrates quality and compassionate care to victim/survivor patients following an assault. Those nurses nominated for the award must also be active members of their local sexual assault response multidisciplinary team.
S.A.F.E.s are health care providers, usually a registered nurses, who are specially educated and trained in the care and treatment of people who have suffered sexual assault/abuse, who is competent in the collection of forensic evidence, and can be a fact or expert witness in court should a case go to trial. Patients have an option when coming to the emergency room to receive medical care with or without forensic evidence collected by a S.A.F.E. A medical forensic exam includes a head to toe confidential medical screening, treatment for any injuries, prevention treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prevention treatment for an unwanted pregnancy related to the assault (if within 5 days of the assault) and evidence collection. The exam can be done anonymously and evidence will be held for 90 days with just a number attached unless the survivor decides to pursue criminal charges. Reporting a sexual assault to the police is left to the patient’s discretion.
Mary Ann has been a registered nurse for 25 years and a practicing S.A.F.E nurse at WCGH for eight years. Mary Ann is ME state certified in pediatrics/adolescent/adult SAFE. She has been instrumental in the launch of the Midcoast Regional Forensic Nurses S.A.F.E program which covers Waldo County General Hospital, Pen Bay Medical Center and Lincoln Health-Miles campus. Recently as the only S.A.F.E in the region, Mary Ann saw the need for a regional program first hand. As coordinator of this regional program, Mary Ann has supported the development of necessary policies, procedures, job descriptions and has coordinated the training of eight S.A.F.E trainees. This program has since expanded its focus and follows a global approach in forensic nursing practice which includes all patients that have survived an interpersonal violent assault, elder abuse/neglect, child physical abuse and domestic violence and sexual assault.