The Emergency Department (ED) at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital provides trauma-informed care for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence 24/7, 365 days a year.

Specially trained registered nurses at Ruby Memorial 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 local Rape Domestic Violence Information 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:

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

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 855-WVU-CARE, and ask to speak to Forensic Nurse Examiner Coordinator Meredith Linger, MSN, RN.