When sexual assault victims are treated at Mercy Medical Center’s Forensic Nurse Examiner Program, items of clothing are often kept as evidence.
The cost of providing replacement clothes for patients can add up, according to program director Debra Holbrook, forcing nurses to turn to the community for donations.
“We have to have replacement clothing for our patients and that becomes a great expense for a program that has limited financial resources," Holbrook said.
For 23 years, the program has offered free round-the-clock care for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Thirty-one nurses are on hand to provide medical exams up to five days after an assault, collect evidence and connect patients to crisis intervention counseling.
Since patients and insurance companies aren't billed for the exams, the program is left to foot the bill for after-care necessities such as underwear, sweat pants and hygiene products.
Holbrook said the program therefore always welcomes contributions.
Locals are asked to donate items with elastic waistbands, not jeans, to accommodate all sizes. Sweatpants with elastic waistbands are welcome during winter months, with t-shirts and elastic-waist shorts useful in the summer.
Sizes can range from small to extra-large. Underwear in all sizes are also accepted.
Anyone interested in donating can call the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program at 410-332-9494 for more drop-off details, or download the program’s free bMOREsafe app, which gives tips and tools for victims and their loved ones.