The Emergency Departments (ED) at WVU Medicine Berkeley and Jefferson Medical Centers provide trauma-informed care for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence 24/7, 365 days a year. 

Specially trained registered nurses provide you or a loved one with compassionate, one-on-one care in a safe, non-judgmental setting for patients of all ages and gender identities. Our goal is to prevent you from experiencing any further trauma during the process of seeking medical care following the assault/violence. 

Following Sexual or Domestic Violence 

To preserve any possible forensic evidence, it is important that you do not change your clothes, shower, eat, or drink before you see a forensic nurse examiner. If possible, bring an extra pair of clothes and come directly to the ED at Ruby. 

What Happens When You Arrive at the ED 

We understand that this is a painful, distressing time for victims, and our providers will give you the support and care that you need. ED staff will obtain your vitals and address any immediate medical concerns. 

An on-call forensic nurse examiner will be called in if the violence has occurred within 96 hours and if you would like to have a medical forensic examination. Medical care will be provided regardless of the time the violence occurred. 

A medical forensic examination is not forced upon any patient, and our first priority is to maintain your safety and well-being and prevent retraumatization. Even if you initially consent to the medical forensic examination, you may decline any and all portions of the examination at any time. 

During the Exam 

A forensic nurse will provide a safe, compassionate exam, help you feel that you can regain control of your life, and assist you in determining your plan of care. The medical forensic examination typically takes a couple of hours, depending upon your medical history and physical condition. 

An advocate from the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center will provide you with a variety of resources, and the advocate will also remain with you for any and all duration of the ED visit if you desire. 

Forensic nurse examiner care includes: 

  • Providing emotional support 
  • Performing a physical examination, including a history of what forms of violence occurred and where contact occurred on the patient’s body 
  • Collecting medical forensic evidence, including photography and trace and biological evidence 
  • Addressing concerns about sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy 
  • Assisting with reporting the crime to police, when requested (mandatory reporting for children) 
  • Provide emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy 
  • Assisting with safety planning 
  • Developing a plan for follow-up care 
  • Help and support when or if you decide to press charges 

It’s okay if you decide that you do not want to speak with law enforcement. The forensic evidence collected can be stored and used later if you decide that you would like to report the violence. A forensic nurse will talk to you about your options, so that you can decide what’s best for you. 

If you have general questions about the WVU Medicine Forensic Nurse Examiners Program, please call 304-728-1500 and ask to speak to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Coordinator Carrie Smith, RNC-MNN, SANE A, SANE-P.