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What are NHRMC’s policies and practices for reporting domestic violence cases related to patients seen in the hospital?

Jim Ware
StarNews

“New Hanover Regional Medical Center complies with laws related to reporting cases mandated to be reported, while also holding confidential the patient information that is not reportable,” said Erin Balzotti, media relations coordinator for the hospital.

The Domestic Violence Shelter and Services works closely with the hospital, said advocate Andrea Stough.

Domestic violence victims contact the shelter through hospital social workers, nurses and other personnel, Stough said.

“It’s about power and control,” she said. “We let them kind of direct the services. If they like we can come out there or arrange to meet them somewhere else.”

Stough said the shelter conducts training for hospital workers once a year to discuss services offered by the shelter.

“Obviously a client can call us directly from the hospital,” she said.

The phone number for the Domestic Violence Shelter and Services is 343-0703.

Julie Ozier, a supervisor at the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Horizons Center, said hospitals are required to report sexual assaults involving minor children (18 years or under) to local DSS or police, but not those involving adults unless the victim suffered a serious injury or gunshot wound.

Ozier said if there’s no weapon injury, “then the adult victim can decide if he or she wants to report it to law enforcement.”

Evidence is collected at no cost to the victim at the hospital and stored, she said. The evidence is not evaluated or processed until the victim decides to prosecute, she said.

Ozier said the Violence Against Women Act as updated in 2009 in North Carolina allows for anonymous reporting of sexual assaults.

The change in the law was important, she said, because victims weren’t going to the hospital to receive treatment of injuries and drugs to ward off potential sexually transmitted diseases.

The Rape Crisis Center’s 24-hour crisis line is (910) 392-7460.

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Tressa Marie Bumbalo Angermeier

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