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Help for sexual assault victims closer to home

Victims of sexual assault will be able to stay closer to home for medical examinations.

Every Texas hospital with an emergency room must have physicians or nurses trained in a basic level of forensic evidence collection. The only facility with a sexual assault nurse examiner program in the panhandle currently is Northwest Texas hospital in Amarillo.

We spoke with the staff at Coon Memorial Hospital in Dalhart about the required change. They currently send anyone who needs this sort of service to Amarillo. Chief nursing officer, Mary Beth Stapleton, says all of their nursing staff will now receive this training.

"There's some organizations that offer the training in order to collect the forensic. It's just basic training. Opposed to having somebody on call 24/7, it would just be easier for us to train all of our nurses who work in the ER to be able to collect that basic evidence," Stapleton said.

Stapleton says forensic evidence collection will be added to their nurses continuing education classes that the hospital provides.

All Texas hospitals are required to implement this by September 1st.
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