Victims of crime in Halifax and Pittsylvania counties would usually have to travel to Lynchburg General Hospital to see a forensic nurse — that’s about to change.
Centra Health is expending its forensics department. On Monday, July 22, the emergency department at Centra Gretna Medical Center will be home to forensic nurses who will be on call 24/7.
“We see victims of crime and collect evidence from those victims,” said Donna Kling, a forensic nurse examiner. “We see malicious wounding, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, elderly abuse and neglect, sexual assault of both children and adults.”
Officials say in the past year and a half they’ve seen 130 cases come to Lynchburg from Pittsylvania and Halifax counties, as well as Danville.
Now victims of crime will have the resources right in the Gretna area. The closer location will allow victims to get the help they need quicker. According to forensic and law enforcement officials, time is crucial when dealing with these kinds of cases.
“That time just gives them more of a chance to say, I don’t want to do anything, I don’t want to go through with it, I’m tired, I want to go home, I don’t want to deal with this anymore,” said Capt. Corey Webb, a Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputy.
This resource will help the victim not only be able to get the medical help they need right away, but also help in getting justice.
“Statistics have shown that when you have a forensic nurse who is collecting the evidence and is able to go to court and testify on behalf of that victim, that prosecution is much more positive,” said Kling.
Forensic nurses also provide resources to those victims to help them overcome the trauma. Kling says this service will allow them to provide justice for victims right in their own backyard.
“We help them and just give them hope and care about them and listen to their stories.”