Forensic nurse examiner program expands to Lexington community

Forensic nurse examiner program expands to Lexington community

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A forensic nurse examiner program has recently expanded at Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital in Lexington – joining four hospitals in Rocky Mount, Roanoke, the New River Valley and Giles. Services will also be offered in Tazewell later this month.

The announcement by Carilion comes during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“When a patient comes into our care who has experienced sexual assault, abuse or domestic violence, they need someone with the expertise to provide compassionate care and treatment while gathering objective information,” said Heather Smith, Director, System Forensic Nurse Examiner Services. “Our specially trained forensic nurses deliver immediate crisis intervention to patients and equip them with the information they need to make medical, legal and safety decisions. Additionally, our forensic nurses can gather information, if appropriate, that can then be used to prosecute violent perpetrators.”

Last month, specially trained nurses became available to deliver immediate crisis intervention around the clock to patients of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, physical assault and violence.

The program links the patient to the judicial system, law enforcement, community services and forensic laboratories that process evidence following a violent act.

“Our patients’ well-being is our top priority. Expanding this program into the Lexington-Rockbridge community while utilizing the latest technology means patients receive expert, specialized care during an extremely difficult time,” said Smith.

Patients in the Lexington-Rockbridge area who would like more information about the forensic nurse examiner program may visit

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.