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Forensics nurse thankful for journey
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Dear Editor,
November is the month for reflecting on what we are THANKFUL for. It is the month in which we gather with loved ones and share a meal, and give THANKS for all of our blessings. One thing that I am so blessed and THANKFUL for is to be able to serve our community as a Forensic Nurse.
A Forensic Nurse is a nurse that connects the medical and legal systems together. A Forensic Nurse gathers information regarding the patients medical history and the traumatic experience in which they have undergone. The nurse conducts a comprehensive head to toe medical exam looking for any potential injury or medical issues, including a detailed genital exam with testing for infections if necessary. A Forensic Nurse collects any potential evidence, complete photo and written documentation, and with the patients permission, turns any and all evidence over to law enforcement. The Forensic Nurse also provides important court testimony of exam findings.
November 6-10 is Forensic Nurses week. As a Forensic Nurse who works for Great Bend Regional Hospital and the Barton County Health Department, I want to extend a big THANK YOU to all who have encouraged, listened, supported and prayed over me along the way.
I want to say THANK YOU to those whom have taught me the skills to be able to do my job, and continue to educate me, and sharpen those skills. I want to say that I am so THANKFUL for the partnerships that have been created since beginning this journey as a Forensic Nurse. Those partnerships have helped connect patients that have been affected by child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault to the care and support that THEY need. I want to say THANK YOU to those in our great community who believe that victims of violence are deserving of such services. Most times, victims are unaware that help is available, or they are too afraid to ask for the help for fear of the person harming them will find out and that this will cause the violence that they are experiencing to escalate.
I am THANKFUL for a service that victims of domestic violence can have injury photographs taken at no charge to them, and kept in a safe, secure place until the time that they are ready to report to law enforcement, creating a timeline of abuse.
I want to THANK those who continuously look outside the box and use creative means to help our victims of crime. I want to THANK those of you, who no matter what is going on around you, or go against the grain to stop and listen to our victims of crime, and steer them in the direction of help. THANK you to those who know and understand that it takes an average of seven times before a victim will actually leave a volatile situation and stay gone.
I want to say THANK YOU to those in our community that recognize that human trafficking is happening all around us, and are working tirelessly to educate our youth. A collaborative partnership of service organizations are bringing a free to the public special movie event to the Golden Belt Cinema on Nov. 11, called 8 Days. After sneaking to a party with her friends, 16 year old Amber Stevens goes missing. Forced into the world of sex trafficking, her family and community fight to get her back. Inspired by actual events. Showing begins at 10:30 a.m. Counselors will be on site following the showing.
I am THANKFUL for our local justice system for taking on these difficult cases and prosecuting. I am THANKFUL for those who continue to work with victims in the days, weeks and even years after abuse has occurred.
I am so THANKFUL to have employers who see the need for these victim services and fully support the cause. But most of all, I am so THANKFUL for the God given passion and the gift of touch that has been laid in the fiber of my being, and having the honor to be a voice for victims.
THANK YOU Barton County for supporting OUR victims, and the great people of OUR county. God bless each and every one of you who are in line of these services. I am so THANKFUL for you!

Debra Higgins,
Great Bend