In the early morning hours, a patient was brought to the Emergency Department (ED) for treatment after a sexual assault. We care for many patients who have suffered sexual assault but this case was memorable. This individual was abducted from her home in a different state and forced at gunpoint to drive south. She was in the control of the assailant for many days and was assaulted at gunpoint. She was forced to stop at a gas station and told to enter the store to purchase something for the assailant. She was threatened if she attempted to alert anyone or flee. Bravely, she alerted the store clerk and a call was made for help. When the police arrived, she immediately fled to the police car and was brought to the ED for treatment. The assailant was arrested shortly after. The ED staff were very concerned about providing the best care and collecting the most sound evidence for this patient.
Although all ED nursing staff are trained to collect evidence, an expert was desired for this case. These cases are very detailed and require 2-5 hours of 1:1 care, depending on the severity of the assault. Phylis Craig is a board-certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who works in the ED, solely to care for patients who have suffered a sexual assault. Phylis takes calls frequently to care for this patient population. This day, she was not "on-call". Still, the ED staff called her and explained the situation and the needs for this patient. Without hesitation, Phylis came to the ED to provide care for this patient and collect the necessary evidence. The expert care, provided by Phylis, ensured the best chance that the evidence will hold up in a court of law. We had the assurance that when the assailant was captured, quality evidence was in place.
This patient was treated with the service and dignity she deserved. Phylis and our nursing staff stayed true to our nursing mission by delivering experienced care and expert caring to this patient. Phylis is a nurse who always goes above and beyond to provide excellence in care and compassion for her patients. This is just one example of the heart she has for women and men who have suffered sexual assault and are in need of specialized care.