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Specialized team at HonorHealth cares for victims of sexual assault in Arizona

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PHOENIX – Nearly 80% of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported, according to a Justice Department analysis of violent crime in 2016.

During sexual assault awareness month, HonorHealth shared how they remain dedicated to changing the stigma and providing medical treatment and advocacy to victims during their most critical time of need.

Jill Rable, forensic nurse manager at HonorHealth, leads the team of specialized nurses who bridge the gap between law and medicine.

“We work with law enforcement and we also take care of the patient and address all of their medical needs and give them the option to collect those samples that could potentially be used for evidence,” Rable told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

Forensic nursing care is not separate from other forms of medical care, but rather integrated into the overall care needs of individual patients.

The goal is to be able to offer a menu of services for the patient who is also a victim of violent crime.

Nurses provide care to victims of sexual assault, sex trafficking, domestic violence and all other forms of violence. Medical forensic examinations are conducted at local family advocacy centers and include all aspects of crime documentation and victim support.

Other hospitals and healthcare providers do not provide these services as HonorHealth holds the contract for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

HonorHealth does all of Maricopa County’s sexual assault examinations for ages 13 and up.

In 2020, the team performed almost 1,100 sexual assault examinations.

“Unfortunately, we hardly ever go a day that an exam is not performed,” Rable said. “Many times, there’s anywhere from three to five performed – in fact, a couple of days ago, I think the number was 17 exams were performed in a 24-hour period.”

Rable said not all victims want to move forward with an investigation. Regardless of the legal side, the team of specialized nurses does whatever they can to assist the victim following the traumatic event.

“Everybody should have choices immediately following something like this and their comfort and safety is the biggest priority,” Rable said.

The forensic nurses offer different options for the victims, as well as connect them to nearby advocacy centers for additional resources.

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