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Forensic nurses receive recognition

Exceptional care: Gaynell Hayward-Caesar, the Sexual Assault Response Team co-ordinator, and sexual assault nurse examiner Rebecca Madeiros (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)

Nurses providing care to men, women and children who have experienced violence or trauma were this week recognised for their work.

The Sexual Assault Response Team and the Department of Health have been observing Forensic Nurses Week.

“It’s a special week once a year that recognises the nurses that are involved in the forensic field, who we are and what we do for the community,” said Rebecca Madeiros.

The sexual assault nurse examiner added: “It’s a quiet, very unknown field so for us it helps us bring it into the public eye and that we are here to protect you and advocate for you.”

Sexual Assault Response Team co-ordinator Gaynell Hayward-Caesar said: “It offers us the opportunity to reflect on the reason why we do what we do and to actually validate what we do.

“This is our fourth year and we really became keen on doing this through the International Association of Forensic Nurses.”

As part of the event, Ms Madeiros, Ms Hayward-Caesar and Judith Brewster were recognised for “providing exceptional patient care usually at unsociable hours of the morning”.

Congratulations were also extended to sexual-assault examiners Karen Raynor, Amanda Georges, Michelle Barnett, Roslyn Mingo, Thamidela Jaya and Beverly Howell, who all completed five days of sexual assault training in February.

“Our motto is ‘caring is our calling’ for as sexual-assault examiners we must be non-judgmental,” Ms Hayward-Caesar said. “We must be caring and compassionate. We must be efficient and very confidential. We are regarded as expert witnesses, who provide the evidence to cases that actually go to court so that requires expertise and preparation.

“Every position is voluntary,” she added. “One of our primary responsibilities is to assist the victim in regaining their confidence because most times they blame themselves.”

Ms Madeiros, who also works as a school nurse, said she volunteers with SART and does the work she does “because nobody else does”.

“I feel somebody needs to give these kids a voice and be their advocate,” she added.

To mark the week, forensic nurses worldwide will today wear lilac — the designated colour of forensic nursing.

The Sexual Assault Response Team was set up in 1998 and consists of forensic nurses, the Bermuda Police Service, the Department of Child and Family Services, the Department of Public Prosecutions, doctors and abuse advocates.