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Forensic camera helps domestic violence survivors

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 6:22 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - CHI St. Francis now has a new tool to help domestic violence survivors get the treatment and help they need after being injured. A $20,000 donation paid for a forensic camera.

The Cortexflo forensic camera is the first of its kind in the Tri-City area hospitals that can detect bruising and injuries before they can be seen with the naked eye. It also can help nurses make survivors feel more comfortable during their difficult experience.

“Patients will present before some injuries show up and so being able to detect an injury or bruise before it shows up on the person it helps collaborate with the story they are telling me and helps law enforcement also,” RN Brandi Stein said.

The camera takes pictures that can be enhanced to show bruises and cuts under the skin or internally. Getting these photos can help domestic violence or sexual assault survivors piece together their stories.

“Our main focus is so they don’t have to tell their story multiple times. We can re-traumatize somebody by making them tell multiple people something very intimate and private,” Stein said. “This allows one person to control the whole situation and be alone with the patient.”

Before the nurse had to take photos by hand and get help from another nurse. With just one nurse they can create a relationship with the patient. The images can also help survivors who may not remember everything that happened to them. It helps determine treatments even if the patient doesn’t recall how they were hurt. Since the camera was installed in September, they have used it multiple times.

“Then I can educate them, why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling and why you’re having the symptoms you’re having,” Stein said. “I was able to show them so they could see for themselves because it is their body and they should have control of that.”

The St. Francis Foundation is also raising money for Project Serenity. it aims to create a place just for survivors to be examined in a more private area than the emergency room. It can also be a quiet location for law enforcement and advocates to speak to a patient.

“People are standing out in the hallway which draws a lot of attention and really makes it uncomfortable for the patient in the room,” St. Francis Foundation Director Melissa Griffith said.

They hope these new tools can help make the difficult experience easier for survivors. The foundation aims to raise $200,000 for Project Serenity. They are about a quarter of the way there.

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