Our employees often respond to victim-survivors in hospital emergency departments. What protocols would you recommend to ensure advocacy services are still available to victim/survivors when hospitals are limiting outside contact/visitors?
It is very important for the Advocacy agencies to work with the local SANE/ Forensic Nursing programs to have a better understanding of any changes the program has implemented because of their facilities response to COVID-19 such as the limiting of contact/visitors, in regards to how they are providing care to their patients that have experienced personal violence. Inquire about what measures are in place to ensure the safety of the patient as well as the partners that will be responding for the patient. While many institutions are not allowing additional persons in during the exam, some communities are reporting that they ARE indeed allowing advocates in under the “compassionate care” model. Minnesota is one example. This may greatly depend on how hard hit a community is with COVID and the availability of PPE. Each community and each facility are unique. The advocacy agency and the SANE/ Forensic Nursing Program should collaborate to develop a process/plan that is attainable by all involved and meets the needs of the patient. Another example would be the development of a process for the advocacy services to be initiated via telephone of video. We are hearing feedback from the field that suggests video advocacy is a more effective approach than just a telephone. For more information, visit https://www.forensicnurses.org/page/covid and http://www.resourcesharingproject.org/hospital-advocacy-and-sexual-assault-forensic-exams