Lake Regional Health System honors a special team during Forensic Nurses Week, Nov. 9-13.
“Forensic nurses play an important role in bridging the health and legal system,” said Crystal Lloyd, R.N., director of the Lake Regional Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team (FACT). “Our forensic nurses have a special opportunity to care for individuals experiencing the shock and devastation of assault, abuse and neglect.”
Lake Regional has nine FACT nurses who operate a full forensics program: Kelly Claspill, RN-FNE; Stephanie Dominique, RN-FNE; Allison Foster, RN-FNE; Martin Krulatz, RN-FNE; Crystal Lloyd, RN-FNE; Tasha Martin, RN-FNE; Kelli Moore, RN-FNE; Monica Whitter, RN-FNE; and Anne Wilson, RN-FNE A/P. These forensic nurse examiners serve victims of sexual assault, physical assault, domestic violence, neglect, elder abuse and neglect, non-fatal strangulation, gun shots, stabbings, and human trafficking.
Victims of these crimes often need an “evidentiary exam,” or an exam aimed at collecting and documenting evidence of the crime committed against them. Lake Regional FACT nurses complete these exams at Lake Regional Health System, as well as at Kids Harbor in both Osage Beach and St. Robert. In 2019, Lake Regional FACT nurses completed a total of 738 cases –– 124 adult cases and 614 cases involving minors.
Lake Regional FACT also partners with several local organizations to serve victims of abuse and neglect, including Citizens Against Domestic Violence/Victim Outreach Center, the Missouri Department of Social Services and law enforcement agencies.
In addition to its FACT program, Lake Regional provides education on human trafficking to all employees. Human trafficking is a crime that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit a person for labor, commercial sex or services against their will. The training covers red flags that could indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking and steps to take if a potential victim is identified.
Lake Regional FACT nurses provide resources when a victim is identified to ensure safety both to the victim and hospital staff.
“Unfortunately, human trafficking does happen in our area,” Lloyd said. “And more often than people realize because human trafficking is notoriously underreported. Our program is on a mission to assist these victims.”
According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, human trafficking can happen to anyone but some people are more vulnerable than others. Significant risk factors include recent migration or relocation, substance use, mental health concerns, involvement with the children welfare system, and being a runaway or homeless youth.
It is estimated that 25 million people are trafficked worldwide. In Missouri in 2019, 233 cases of human trafficking were reported. More than 75 percent were sex trafficking cases, and 69 of the 233 cases involved minors. In most cases, trafficking victims –– including child victims –– knew and trusted their traffickers. According to Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, the organization has helped 38 trafficking victims since its inception in 2015.
Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to residents and visitors throughout the mid-Missouri region. The hospital is a Level II Stroke Center, Level II STEMI (heart attack) Center and Level III Trauma Center. Lake Regional also provides a wide range of specialties, including cancer care, heart care, orthopedics and women’s health. Plus, Lake Regional operates primary care clinics, Express Care clinics, rehab therapy clinics, programs for home health and hospice, and retail pharmacies. To learn more, visit lakeregional.com.