Seeking rape kit, woman referred away from ERs

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kentwood woman hopes her traumatic experience trying to get a rape kit collected in Grand Rapids will save others time and stress.

Earlier this month, Brittney Taylor went to the Metro Health Hospital emergency room in Wyoming for a forensic exam. She told News 8 the assault happened not long before her mom took her there.

“It just happened. There’s all that evidence and they didn’t do anything with it,” Taylor recounted. “It was a little upsetting because they were like, ‘Just go in the morning to the YWCA.'”

She filed a police report with an officer who responded to the hospital, but left without the closure of knowing the DNA evidence was collected. 

Taylor told News 8 there was going to be a wait of a few hours at the YWCA of West Central Michigan in downtown Grand Rapids, so she tried going to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital’s ER the next day. After her first attempt at Metro, Taylor’s aunt called and confirmed she could get the kit done there.

“I get there and they’re like, ‘Uh, we can do some of it, but we can’t do all of it.’ And that’s when they did the CT scan and X-ray of my neck because it was severely bruised,” Taylor explained. 

Ultimately, she got the kit done at the YWCA.

“It was two days of me sweating, going to the bathroom, sleeping, and I tried to collect all the evidence I could on my end, but I know they missed a lot because I waited,” Taylor said. “He had bit me and just everything they could’ve got more of it was done right away at the hospital.”

News 8 does not typically name victims of sexual assault, but Taylor approached News 8 and wanted to be identified publicly.

Both Spectrum and Metro provided statements to News 8 saying that while they will provide care immediately following an assault, they partner with the YWCA to perform rape kits because of its expertise.

State law requires hospitals offer rape kits, but News 8 found many rely on and recommend that victims use organizations like the YWCA. The YWCA’s victim-focused training creates a better environment than one would find in a busy hospital.

News 8 pointed out that more often than not, a victim’s first thought after an assault would be to go to an ER. The YWCA agreed that’s true because people are taught to go to the ER after a trauma, but said that its program is designed to provide “sensitive, expert, 24/7 on-call response so that victims can get the care they need and deserve.”

>>YWCA: What to expect if you need a rape exam

The YWCA said that once it is contacted, a nurse examiner and victim advocate will be ready within half an hour. They will perform a screening by phone and then schedule a free appointment for a rape kit. The YWCA has a private examination room at its downtown office on Sheldon Boulevard.

YWCA’s full statement:

“The idea of going to an emergency department after a sexual assault is an ingrained part of our shared cultural psyche.  In reality, our local community response has evolved a great deal in the last 20+ years. It takes into consideration the needs of sexual assault victims and the YWCA Nurse Examiner Program is designed for that exact purpose – a sensitive, expert, 24/7 on-call response so that victims can get the care they need and deserve.  

“The community response also takes into account the different “doors” a victim may walk through, so there are protocols in place with hospitals, as well as law enforcement, colleges, etc. to connect a victim to the YWCA Nurse Examiner Program as seamlessly as possible.

“Once the YWCA is contacted (by a hospital, law enforcement, or through our own helpline), a nurse examiner and victim advocate will be ready within 30 minutes – day or night, rain or shine. The nurse examiner does some initial screening by phone first and schedules the time to meet the victim. When the victim arrives at the YWCA, they are the sole focus for the nurse and advocate, both of whom have extensive training. The YWCA’s medical suite is private and all the services are free to the victim. Lastly, victims are not required to report to law enforcement. However, if they choose to do so later, victims can be assured that their rape kit was completed accurately and expertly, and that the chain of evidence is maintained.”

Metro Health’s full statement:

“Our Emergency Services provides medical screening exams to all patients that present to the ER. Testing initiated after the medical screening exam is determined by the physician assigned to the case. Stabilizing care is provided by the emergency team addressing emergent conditions. Once medical stability is determined, subsequent care is set up as needed with the appropriate specialists and providers.”

Spectrum’s full statement:

“The safety and privacy of patients at Spectrum Health is our number one priority. Spectrum Health performs rape kits. However, we have developed a strong working relationship with the Nurse Examiner Program of the YWCA. It is one of the country’s strongest stand-alone programs, providing medical care and forensic exams for victims, along with the YWCA’s strong services in counseling related support.  When victims are able, we strongly encourage them to take advantage of the YWCA’s expert services, provided in a safe, quiet, comfortable and nurturing environment. Our emergency room team facilitates and coordinates each patient’s timely evaluation with the YWCA.  We always want patients to receive the most appropriate care in the most comfortable setting.”

YWCA of West Central Michigan has a hotline for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence that can be reached any time at 616.454.9922. The state also has a hotline that offers support and resources: 1.855.VOICES4 (864.2374).

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