Vancouver, BC – Beginning in mid-December, Vancouver Coastal Health will have a public health nurse available in Squamish to support Sea-to-Sky victims of sexual assault who would like a forensic examination. As well, some local Squamish physicians have expressed interest in providing forensic sexual assault services once they complete the necessary education and training, and will join the public health nurse in forming a team.
"It is important to ensure that sexual assaults patients receive appropriate specialized sexual assault services, including forensic examination along with general health care as close to their home communities as possible," said Jordan Sturdy, MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky. "Vancouver Coastal Health has worked with stakeholders and listened to the community, and this valuable service is an important addition to the health care in this region."
Adds Laurie Leith, director of VCH’s coastal region, “For some time now, VCH has been working with local physicians and members of the community to strengthen the services available to sexual assault victims, including the provision of forensic examination,” she says. “Providing sexual assault health care is taken very seriously at Vancouver Coastal Health, and we’re pleased to be able to provide Sea-to-Sky patients with forensic examination closer to home.”
A forensic examination is done when evidence needs to be gathered for criminal prosecution after a sexual assault. The service, which can take several hours to complete, is offered in the Emergency Department of Vancouver General Hospital by the BC Women’s Hospital Sexual Assault Service—a specially-trained team of female nurses, nurse examiners, doctors and counsellors who are on-call to provide care 24-hours a day.
Operated by Provincial Health Services Authority, the service includes emotional support, assessment and treatment of injuries, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention, as well as forensic sample collection. Forensic examinations are also available throughout the Fraser Health region, as well as Powell River General and Sechelt hospitals.
The provision of forensic examination in Squamish is in addition to the current medical treatment and follow-up care currently offered to sexual assault victims. While forensic examination will initially be available Monday to Friday, VCH is working to finalize discussions with community physicians to provide on-call forensic examination for sexual assault victims on a 24-hour basis.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Public Affairs Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health