St. Francis Opens Private Serenity Suite for Victims of Sexual Assault | Grand Island Local News

A new space at CHI Health St. Francis is designed to offer serenity to victims of sexual assault.

The special three-room area, called the Serenity Suite, is dedicated to the medical treatment and forensic examination of survivors of violence.

The suite, which opened Friday, is a $300,000 project funded by the St. Francis Foundation.

CHI St. Francis says the area provides a safe and private space to care for patients who have been victims of sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence so that recovery can begin. Located near the hospital’s emergency room, the self-contained space was designed to reduce further trauma and promote patient dignity.

CHI St. Francis opened its new Serenity and Suite Friday morning during a space blessing and tour.

Independent, Josh Salmon

Ed Hannon, president of CHI Health St. Francis, said the hospital wanted to create a space that would give victims of sexual assault privacy. It provides a place for counseling and forensic examinations and for the collection of evidence, if necessary.

Above all, it’s a “private setting where they can get the compassionate care they need from their caregivers,” Hannon said.

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St. Francis employees saw a similar setup at a CHI hospital in Omaha, Hannon said. St. Francis nurses who have special training in dealing with sexual assault have requested a facility at Grand Island Hospital.

The request was made to the St. Francis Foundation, which “very quickly said yes,” Hannon said. The Foundation funded the renovation as a gift to the hospital and as “a gift to our community, essentially,” Hannon said.

Hannon noted that central Nebraska is a human trafficking zone. But the Serenity Suite is meant to bring comfort to all victims of sexual assault.

The hospital points out that the Serenity Suite has a restricted-access entrance, which provides increased privacy and security for the patient as well as forensic nurses and other violence response professionals.

The Serenity Suite also includes a “softly ambience consultation room designed with the patient’s comfort in mind when meeting with community advocates, law enforcement and healthcare professionals,” says a Press release.

The medical treatment and forensic examination room is equipped with all necessary equipment for specialized treatment and collection of evidence, the statement said. The patient can stay in the same suite until discharged.

The area includes a private toilet and shower stocked with personal hygiene supplies and clothing.

Another feature is an advanced forensic camera. Funded by the foundation and St. Francis Auxiliary, this single-operator camera uses a filtration source to immediately identify bruises and injuries, the press release says. This helps reduce the risk of retraumatization by eliminating the need for additional photos and evidence collection at a later date.

Seremity Suite

CHI St. Francis Chaplain Charles Gregory, right, Blessed Serenity Suite Friday morning at the hospital. It was followed by a short visit.

Independent, Josh Salmon

“Crisis intervention, awareness and violence reduction are critical to the health of our community,” Kiley Grzywa, vice president of patient care services, said in a statement. “From our forensic nurses to our generous donors, we are all passionate about ensuring survivors of violence are protected and receive sensitive, timely and expert care so the healing process can begin.”

The Serenity Suite opened in April, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. He was blessed in a ceremony on Friday.

The CHI St. Francis Forensic Nurse Examiner program “aims to reduce the physical and psychological trauma of victims of sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence through sensitive and timely medical examinations performed by specially trained nurse examiners and through the collaboration of interdisciplinary community response teams,” the St. Francis press release reads.

CHI Health forensic nurse examiners are available to provide service in all CHI Health emergency departments. There is a dedicated FNE room in seven CHI Health emergency departments across the state.

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