Hospital, agency speed response for rape victims

From left, Donna Lamar, the hospital’s director of nurses; Cindy Rogers, the emergency and operating room supervisor; Pam Hertzig, a Coversa forensics nurse; Ann Ellison, House of Hope executive director, and Christal Milligan, a House of Hope victim advocate. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

By David Knopf/Richmond News


It’s not hard to imagine a rape victim who’s unwilling to take the time – or even spend the gas money – to drive to Kansas City for a specialized forensics exam.

Compound that with a natural reluctance to discuss the rape with strangers or even worse, parents, and more than a few victims keep the attacks quiet.

A new program at Ray County Memorial Hospital, however, may change that. Having a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner on call is now part of the equation in providing immediate medical care for victims, access to “rape kit” exams and counseling to ease the trauma of forced sex.

In the past month, the hospital contracted with Coversa (, an independent agency housed at North Kansas City Hospital. The name Coversa is defines the agency’s purpose – Collection of Victim Evidence Regarding Sexual Assault. As its name suggests, Coversa dispatches specialized forensic nurse examiners like Pam Hertzig, a Richmond resident, to hospitals to gather evidence that can be used to prosecute a suspect.

On Oct. 27, Hertzig met with Ray County Prosecutor Danielle Rogers and Richmond Police Chief Chad Burnine to outline how the program works. The same day, she led a Power Point presentation for the hospital’s nursing staff and explained the process of gathering evidence once a victim gives consent.


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