The new HAVEN medical forensic examination room for survivors of sexual assault, located  inside the Emergency & Trauma Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, is now operational.

The new HAVEN medical forensic examination room for survivors of sexual assault, located inside the Emergency & Trauma Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, is now operational.

Photo provided by Elizabeth Montalvo


HAVEN expands services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence to Beaumont

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 4, 2019

 HAVEN forensic nurses use evidence collection kits to gather evidence from sexual assault survivors.

HAVEN forensic nurses use evidence collection kits to gather evidence from sexual assault survivors.

Photo provided by Elizabeth Montalvo

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ROYAL OAK — On Aug. 26, in partnership with HAVEN, a private patient examination room came online exclusively for victims of sexual assault in the Emergency & Trauma Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

Patients discharged from the ER can request a forensic medical examination or be referred by law enforcement. The examination typically lasts two to three hours and involves a forensic nurse and a patient advocate from HAVEN.

HAVEN is an Oakland County-based nonprofit organization that offers comprehensive programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to almost 30,000 people annually.

“We do the medical forensic examinations on sexual assault patients and domestic violence patients, particularly those that experience strangulation during their assault,” said Diane Zalecki Bertalan, director of HAVEN’s START (Safe Therapeutic Response Team). “We make sure the patient is stable, gets the medication they need, and we document and collect evidence for law enforcement.”

Through the program, sexual assault survivors can receive medical care for shock, emotional trauma, internal and external injuries, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.

While Zalecki Bertalan said the room is not staffed 24/7, HAVEN representatives are always on call and can get to the hospital in 60-90 minutes.

“It’s not a conventional emergency department area. We try to make it homey, so they feel comfortable,” she said. “We want them to feel at ease.”

She said the team has 120 hours, or five days, to do the examination, and all services rendered by HAVEN are free of charge.

“Once a patient is victimized by sexual assault or domestic violence, they’re very, very vulnerable, so that leaves them open to this happening again … by a predator, because that’s exactly what these people are — they are predators who take advantage of people,” she said.

Zalecki Bertalan said this is the first time HAVEN has had a facility within a hospital.

“We had originally been in Royal Oak since 2004,” she said. “We had a house over by the Farmers Market that was actually city property. They leased it to us, but with the expansion of the police station and parking area there, we lost it a year ago.”

She said she is excited for HAVEN to return to the area.

“It really is very centrally located, as far as Oakland County,” she said. “We wanted to be more accessible to patients who need our services.”

Bernadette White, administrative director of nursing for Beaumont and HAVEN board member, said Beaumont’s relationship with HAVEN began when both patients and staff identified the need for more specialized training.

“They don’t always have a lot of experience treating these types of patients or assessing the signs and symptoms,” she said.

She consequently applied for and secured an internal grant from the hospital to train 400 physicians and staff in the ER on topics such as responding to a patient’s disclosure of sexual violence, assessment and intervention of domestic or intimate partner abuse, and danger assessment.

“Over the course of a year working with (HAVEN) … and spending time volunteering, our relationship has grown. It’s a partnership that really grew into a family,” White said.

For more information about HAVEN, visit www.haven-oakland.org or call (248) 334-1274.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.

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