Local hospital unveils new center for victims of abuse
PHILADELPHIA - Patients seeking care after experiencing abuse will now have a dedicated new space at Jefferson Abington Hospital.
Hospital staff and community partners held a ribbon cutting on Wednesday night in commemoration of the "Safe Center" opening to the public.
While it’s considered to be part of the Emergency Trauma Center, the Safe Center is separated from the actual emergency department and provides privacy in a soothing environment.
"So you don’t have the loud noises, you don’t have the hustle and bustle, you can bypass the waiting area," said Jalla Atkins, Forensic Coordinator at Jefferson Abington Hospital. "That’s what I want my patients to know is when they come here they can start on their way to heal and to feel safe again."
There are four specialized trained nurses who are dedicated to caring for patients at the Safe Center, according to Atkins, and more than a dozen forensic nurses who are available to provide this type of specialized care.
The patients can range from people experiencing sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, cognitive delay abuse, human trafficking and domestic violence.
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The Safe Center provides a private exam suite that has a bathroom with a shower, a private interview room and a secured evidence collection area.
"That’s what I want my patients to know is, when they come here, they can start on their way to heal and to feel safe again," said Atkins.
According to Atkins, this was a community-driven effort with $700,000 raised for the renovations and two-year project.
In 2020, there were 207 visits for forensic nurse examiner consults and in 2021 there were 245 visits.
"Those exams are patient-guided and they can take hours long, something that’s very difficult and challenging in a busy chaotic emergency department," said Dr. Bruce Rubin, Assistant Chairman of the Emergency Department at Jefferson Abington Hospital. "Coming to this area in the Safe Center allows patients to really begin their healing process."
Several members of law enforcement attended the unveiling including Chief Phil Pulaski of the East Norriton Township Police Department.
"A victim wears three hats. So, the victim is not just a victim they’re a patient, so they have to be medically treated, they’re also a potential witness and most importantly, they wear the hat of being a human being," said Chief Pulaski. "This allows a multi-disciplinary approach. So you have law enforcement working with medical personnel all to make sure the victim is not victimized by the system."
A hospital spokesperson said the first patient was treated at the Safe Center on January 4.