SAN RAFAEL (BCN) -- Victims of sexual assault in Marin County have one less hurdle to cross in their quest for justice starting March 1, when nurses specially trained to carry out forensic exams will be on staff at the Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center.
Up until this change, in order to get an exam victims of sexual assault in Marin needed to get in a police car and be driven to the Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo. The exams are important for evidence collection and ideally should be done by nurses specially trained in trauma-informed care and forensic evidence collection.
Marin County District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli is a proponent of the change.
"This will lessen the stress and trauma already suffered by victims of these crimes and during the investigative process," she said.
The DA's Special Victims Unit will work in tandem with attorneys, victim-witness advocates, law enforcement agencies and the Napa-Solano Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team.
"The complexity of sexual assault makes reporting difficult for victims," said Kari Cordero, executive director of the Napa-Solano sexual assault response team. "They not only have to report it to a law enforcement agency, but then law enforcement has to contact our team to set up an exam in Vallejo, and that's a deal-breaker for a lot of victims. Doing exams in Marin County will remove an additional barrier to reporting, allow for evidence collection, and begin a path for healing."
County officials said that years ago such exams were conducted by a team of obstetric nurses and midwives at Marin General Hospital (now known as MarinHealth). In 2009, Marin approached the Napa-Solano sexual assault response team about "taking on" the county's clients, which at the time numbered between 8 and 10 per year, they said.
Cordero said that the need has grown, with 25 exams needed in Marin County in 2021.
The board of supervisors approved a pilot program last year to bring the exams back to the county, but it was delayed due to COVID-19 issues. Now, starting in March, two trained nurses will be available at the Terra Linda facility to conduct exams.
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