Forensic Nursing Services of Providence temporarily closes overnight services

October 29, 2013

Dick Mandsager, MD, chief executive, Providence Alaska Medical Center

Due to staffing issues, as of Oct. 1 Forensic Nursing Services of Providence has temporarily closed overnight services between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. We are currently in the process of recruiting and hiring additional staff with plans to reopen overnight service by Feb. 1, 2014, possibly much earlier.
In the meantime, our 24-hour pager is available to schedule next-day appointments for patients who present overnight. Although a forensic nurse is not available to respond to cases during this time, Forensic Nursing Services of Providence’s clinical nurse manager or her designee is available for consultation to local and state agencies. Our goal is to provide forensic nursing services as soon as a patient reports an assault. Via our 24-hour pager, law enforcement contacts forensic nursing, which immediately calls the patient to set up an exam.
Forensic Nursing Services of Providence, along with our community partners, is dedicated to serving patients who have experienced sexual assault. The decision to temporarily close overnight service was a difficult one and was postponed as we recruited for open positions and used alternate staffing solutions. Our commitment to providing this important service to the community led us to keep overnight hours despite these staffing challenges for approximately a year. During that time we provided overnight coverage with a few nurses, which placed too heavy a burden on individual nurses.
Ultimately, these solutions were not sustainable, and we made the difficult decision to pause and establish more sustainable staffing. Forensic Nursing Services of Providence is staffed by registered nurses who have specialized training in caring for patients who have experienced sexual assault. Like other nurse specialties, forensic nurse examiners are in great demand and we are actively recruiting for RNs with this certification or those seeking to be certified. Forensic Nursing Services of Providence continues to collaborate with community partners as we adjust operations during this period.
Please know that the issue is one of staffing and recruitment of nurses with training in an advanced specialty. Providence is committed to financially supporting forensic nursing as part of our community benefit program, which includes services in support of our Mission to serve the poor and vulnerable. We will provide updates, including a timeline for reinstating overnight operations, as they become available.