AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The emergency department at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is now offering follow-up care to patients who experience violence, giving them more personalized treatment as they recover from a traumatic experience.
People who have experienced trauma like sexual assault or domestic abuse are already treated in a forensic suite, where nurses collect evidence and provide medical care.
“This is a private space away from the hustle and bustle of the emergency department, where they can get specialized care,” said Christine Foote-Lucero, the forensic nurse program manager.
Nurses say the new protocol for follow-up care is aimed to continue helping patients who may otherwise fall through the cracks when they leave the hospital.
So far, they say it’s going well.
“Patients have reported to us that they really loved seeing that same nurse. They don’t have to tell their story again,” Foote-Lucero said.
Now, the clinic is scheduling patients to come back seven to 10 days later, “just to make sure: Are their wounds healing? Did they get sutures or staples placed? We’ll remove those,” Foote-Lucero said.
Nurses can recheck concussion symptoms, screen again for safety and mental health issues and offer resources.
All of this seems well timed. With the loosening of COVID restrictions, nurses say they are seeing more cases.
“Sexual assaults, intimate partner violence and strangulation, gunshot wounds and stabbings — all of our numbers have gone up,” Foote-Lucero said.
With so much violence, nurses say bringing the survivors back for care helps the patients and the nurses.
“I was so shocked how much it benefited me and my heart,” said Katelyn Hook, a registered nurse.
She cared for the first patient to get follow-up care. He survived an assault and was in bad shape when he came in.
Hook says it was wonderful to be able to see him getting better.