PUEBLO — While hospitals have felt the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not just because of patients who have the virus.
Parkview Medical Center has seen an increase in the number of sexual violence patients at the hospital, roughly beginning in May of 2020. Jenifer Bartell is the Forensic Nurse Examiner Coordinator at the hospital, who is doing everything she can to ensure these patients receive the care they need.
According to Bartell, survivors of sexual violence need a specially trained health care team, not only to ensure they get the best care possible, but to make sure there is evidence collected in the event charges are filed against a perpetrator. "There's a limited amount of nurses that can do this. At Parkview, currently we only have five. We've had as many as ten at one point in time, and as low as one when it first started," said Bartell, BSN, RN, SANE-A, and SANE-P.
Bartell said the program started with sexual assault survivors, and expanded to patients who experience strangulation. This year, Bartell brought services to intimate partner violence and domestic violence victims. "We're the only program in Southeastern Colorado that does this, from here to Kansas and to New Mexico. And so it's super specialized. And these victims, these patients, they deserve the quality care that we're able to give them, and so it's so gratifying knowing that I can help them in that way, when nobody else can," said Bartell.
The number of patients requiring these services increased in 2020, and those repercussions have continued into 2021. "It used to be a unique day. However, we see an average of about 39 patients a month. And so, it's a daily occurrence, and sometimes two to three times a day... I can tell you we've seen over 100 patients this year for domestic violence and intimate partner violence related issues, but I think that number's a lot higher because people don't always want to say what they're here for," said Bartell.
2021 is the first year Parkview Medical Center tracked this data, and Bartell hopes it will further expand the program. "At the end of the day, they say thank you. Thank you for helping me, thank you for being there. And that is just, it's amazing. Words can't describe it," said Bartell.
As a result of Bartell's work, she was nominated for a Nightingale Luminary Award which is Colorado's highest nursing honor, according to those with Parkview Medical Center. Bartell, along with another nurse from Parkview Medical Center, won for their region and are moving to the next round of award winners in Denver.