Carson Tahoe Health criticized for posture on sex assault exams
September 1, 2014
Carson Tahoe Health facilities won't do exams for victims of sexual assault, Carson City Health Officer Susan Pintar said Thursday, and District Attorney Neil Rombardo then criticized CTH.
"They just don't want to deal with it," Rombardo charged, saying it means rape victims must travel to Sparks for exams. He said that can cause not only unease for victims already traumatized, but also may complicate matters faced by his office. He made the critical comments during a Board of Health meeting over which Pintar presided, but later expanded his comments for the Nevada Appeal.
He said he has met with hospital officials but gotten nowhere, and asserted the problem is the health care firm can't make sufficient money on such exams.
Pintar, while less strident with her comments during the meeting, didn't quarrel with Rombardo's meeting remarks. They were backed by Sheriff Ken Furlong at Rombardo's prompting. Pintar and Furlong sit on the city's Board of Health along with the Board of Supervisors. The five-member city governing board, as well as the seven-member health board, met Thursday morning.
Pintar's relatively diplomatic take came after Supervisor John McKenna raised questions about whether providing government money was the issue and Mayor Robert Crowell pointed out nurses are offered training on handling of sexual assault victims and exams by the office of Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto. Pintar kept her comment short.
"There are other issues at play," she said.
Furlong, for his part, not only backed Rombardo's comments during the meeting but also decried how sexual assault victims are treated generally in society after they are victimized. "We treat inmates better," he said.
Anna Anders, Carson Tahoe Health vice president and chief nursing officer, reached later said she didn't have nurses with proper training and doing the exams isn't in victims' best interests. She said CTH accepts victims, sequesters them for comfort and gives whatever aid possible, then calls a sexual assault advocate.
She said the CTH approach keeps the victim's needs uppermost because proper training of nurses doing such exams and precise handling of the evidence chain is most important. "We don't have the trained staff here," she said.
The health board discussion was part of Pintar's report on city health activities both inside and outside of city government's Health and Human Services Department. She called it a good news/bad news report, saying the bad was CTH would no longer do the exams but the good news was funding for flu vaccine preparedness for the city had been secured from state government. She said the flu vaccine preparedness initiative would come in October.
Also reporting on health matters were Nikki Aaker, HHS director, and several from her staff.
Among those reports was information concerning growth of city job fairs and resulting jobs, word about coordinating electronic medical records and data to make the best meaningful use of them, and continuing movement toward making Carson City a pedestrian and bicycle friendly community.
The mayor sounded enthusiastic that efforts were going forward to get the city designated a bike-friendly community. He said the last time he checked, the bike-friendly feature was among the top five or 10 things people seek when looking for a new place to live. "You know, it's a big deal," said Crowell.