Bangor nurse honored for work as Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - A nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor has been honored for her work as a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner.

Keri Kapaldo is a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor.

After taking a class in nursing school several years ago, she underwent Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner training to better treat and care for patients who have suffered sexual assault or abuse.

“Professional, full-time Forensic Nurses caring for patients, so daily, they are consulting or talking to people who present with like risk factors or who may disclose that they have a history of some sort of violence or abuse in their past or actively taking care of anybody who presents to the emergency room who has been a victim of a violent crime,” said Kapaldo, RN, SAFE Clinical Leader.

Tuesday, Kapaldo was presented with the SAFE award from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

SAFE Coordinator Amanda Blake says Kapaldo was nominated by her peers in the program for making a significant contribution to the work happening statewide.

“We had applicants from advocacy, from health care, across the board, Keri stood out. So, she’s making huge strides in the Bangor area, a place that really needs this sort of community resource and is making real effective change,” said Amanda Blake, SAFE Program Coordinator, Maine DHHS.

Blake says the state saw a decrease in reports of sexual and domestic abuse during the height of the pandemic, but they have since returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Through the SAFE program, health care providers are trained to connect people with the resources they need to stay safe and get help.

“We redefine justice for the person that’s in front of us in that moment. There’s no expectation for them. They’re in complete charge of what happens in the room when they work with us and in control of the outcomes that could potentially happen and the resources that we give them,” Kapaldo said.

Kapaldo currently has two full time SAFE providers under her and four per diem nurses.

She says the work they are trained to do is extremely important, and she encourages other health care providers to get involved.

“There needs to be more of us, and creating a way for that to happen is something that drives me and growing this program. There is no shortage of violence in this world, and having the appropriately trained people to give really good trauma informed care to people who need it is incredibly important,” said Kapaldo.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can call the national domestic violence helpline at 800-799-7233 or the sexual assault helpline at 1-800-871-7741

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