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NMMC’s Michaud attains SAFE designation

FORT KENT, Maine — James A. Reese, RN, director of nursing at Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC), announced recently that Jeannette Michaud, RN, has met the requirements for the Maine Pediatric Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program.

Michaud has been a SAFE nurse for adults and adolescents since 2003. She has worked in the Nursing Department at NMMC for just over 40 years.

In 2001, Michaud was approached by her supervisor to become trained in the field of sexual assault forensics. A strong patient advocate, she agreed to undertake the challenge. By 2003, she had met the didactic and practice requirements to function in the role of adult and adolescent sexual assault nurse examiner.

Recognized by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) is a health care provider who has been specially trained to provide medical/forensic care for a patient who has suffered sexual assault and/or abuse, in the collection of forensic evidence, and to testify in court as an expert or fact witness. Registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians may participate in the training.

This national model utilizes an interdisciplinary, community-based approach for the dignified and compassionate care and treatment of sexual assault patients.

According to Mark Rubin, author of “Maine Crime Investigation Report: Informing Public Policy For Safer Communities,” nearly one in five adult Maine residents report that they have been the victim of rape or attempted rape during their lifetime.

Michaud said, “If I can make a difference and help them initiate the healing process it is worth all the time and effort.” She said incidents of sexual assault are under-reported because frequently victims do not have the support they need to go through the process. She said victims of sexual assault should be informed that evidence may be collected even though they need time to make a decision on whether or not to report the incident.

According to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), the forensic exam is free and is the evidence kit is held anonymously by the police department for ninety days, allowing the victim time to make a decision about reporting.

Michaud and NMMC colleague, Kim Paradis, are two of seven forensic examiners in Aroostook County. The nature and intensity of the work is demanding and intense, with a high turnover rate. Once the practitioner completes the initial didactic and clinical course requirements, ongoing standards must also be maintained and the certification must be renewed every three years, which includes: participation in peer review at least yearly, performance of at least two medical-forensic examinations per year, completion of a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education and attendance at a minimum of two quarterly meetings each year. Also, additional requirements must be maintained for managing a sexual assault case in the pediatric patient.

To contact AMHC Sexual Assault Services, call 1-800-871-7741 or www.amhc.org.

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