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Richmond University Medical Center Hosts Conference on Care for Sexual Assault Survivors

November 20, 2023
RUMC, Community Partners and Agencies Discuss Resources and Care Services 

As Staten Island’s only Center of Excellence for the care of sexual assault survivors, Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) held a daylong conference on November 16 focused on the growing rate of sexual assault incidents in the borough and treatment services available both at RUMC and through its community partners. 

Officially designated by the New York State Department of Health as a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Center of Excellence since 2008, in addition to being Staten Island’s only hospital with this designation, RUMC is also one of less than 20 in the entire state. Recent reports show that the number of sexual assault survivors treated at RUMC is sadly on an upward trend and includes minors and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Women continue to be the highest demographic year over year. In 2021, RUMC cared for 69 survivors, with 62 being women. Last year the number of survivors grew to 74 with 68 being women. So far this year through the first three quarters of 2023, RUMC has cared for 52 survivors, 47 of them women.

The conference featured demonstrations of SAFE nurses testifying in court; a discussion on healthcare rights and laws for minors; an overview of the comprehensive services provided to sexual assault survivors who come for treatment in RUMC’s Emergency Department; and speakers from community partners, law enforcement agencies and survivor support services. The conference was co-sponsored by the ACLU of New York; Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon, the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence; Safe Horizon; and the Special Victims Division of the NYPD. Each sponsor also participated through presentations, information sessions and panel discussions. 

“What makes our jobs as sexual assault nurses at RUMC powerful and rewarding is seeing our patients reclaim their lives,” said Forensic Nurse Coordinator Isangozi Shoneyi, RN. “The trauma does not disappear, but they leave our emergency department knowing someone believed in them and they are not alone in their journey.”

The experienced team of specially trained forensic nurses at RUMC use a patient centered care approach, helping restore the person’s sense of control and personal safety. They work closely with partners such as the NYPD and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. In addition to comprehensive training in the proper collection and storage of evidence, each forensic nurse is also trained to provide testimony in court when called upon.

This past January, RUMC opened its new 35,000 square foot Emergency Department which features a dedicated SAFE suite, guaranteeing the privacy and safety assault victims need and deserve. After disclosing their injuries during triage, patients are escorted immediately to the SAFE suite, located adjacent to the Emergency Department trauma care area, but with a separate entrance. The suite includes an interview room, an adjoining examination room, and a private bathroom with shower.

Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) is a not-for-profit healthcare provider serving the ethnically diverse community of Staten Island and its neighbors. We provide premier-quality patient care through a full spectrum of emergent, acute, primary, behavioral health and educational services. We do this in an environment that promotes the highest satisfaction among patients, families, physicians and staff. For more information call 1-718-818-1234 or visit Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.