Ladysmith – Survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence in Ladysmith can now access medical care, sexual assault forensic examinations (SAFE), and other supports they may need closer to home.
Forensic Nurse Examiners have specialized training to provide medical forensic exams. They are now available to support patients at the Ladysmith Urgent Care Centre between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm, seven days a week. Outside of these hours, survivors can access 24-hour SAFE services at the emergency departments at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital or the Cowichan District Hospital.
Forensic Nurse Examiners can see survivors up to seven days after a sexual assault or domestic violence, and can provide the choice of three care options:
- Medical care only. SAFE is not performed and no police report is filed.
- Medical care and SAFE; this includes the documentation of physical injuries and forensic sample collection. The forensic samples are stored for one year so survivors have time to decide what they would like to do.
- Medical care and SAFE, where forensic samples are provided to RCMP immediately.
Forensic Nurse Examiners ensure survivors of violence are supported beyond the examination room. They work with health, social, and legal services, and can refer survivors to local supports and partner agencies.
Island Health has approximately 70 forensic nurse examiners. They work on-call to care for people of all genders and ages who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence.
24-hour support is also available through the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888.
In October 2018, Island Health launched a social media campaign called #TrustYourself to encourage survivors to seek medical help following an assault and to promote the excellent work of the Forensic Nurse Examiner program. Through Facebook and Instagram, the #TrustYourself campaign has reached more than 150,000 people.