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ECMC explains emergency care process for sexual assault victims

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program
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Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 15:07:28-04

A local hospital is clarifying how it treats victims of sexual assault in emergency care one day after a former patient shared her story with us alleging those treatment practices into question.

We reported Tuesday that a woman name Madison said she was raped in her apartment in Blasdell and then went to ECMC for emergency care.

But while at the hospital Madison says the staff did not offer her any crisis services, food, or a place to change her clothes. And she was asked to pay $300 upfront for a sexual assault kit to collect evidence.

We followed up with the head of ECMC’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program who laid out her team's commitment to sexual assault victims.

“My focus is to really explain to the community that we have a very good service, as a matter of fact, I would say excellent. We are listed at the top of the search for a reason,” described Karen Beckman-Pilcher, clinical nurse specialist at ECMC.

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Karen Beckman-Pilcher, clinical nurse specialist at ECMC.

For nearly two decades Beckman-Pilcher has been serving as a clinical nurse specialist in ECMC’s emergency department. She leads the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program known as SANE.

Beckman-Pilcher told me she could not go into detail surrounding Madison's case since it is under investigation by the hospital but did explain the patient was given the wrong information about needing to pay for a sexual assault evidence kit.

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Statement from ECMC.

“It appears for this particular case, this patient may not have received the most accurate information from non-medical staff,” replied Beckman-Pilcher.

However, Beckerman-Pilcher tells me she was upset to hear Madison had a difficult visit.

“It’s upsetting because we pride ourselves in providing care to victims of sexual assault, so it's upsetting that her perception is she didn't get what she needed because we come to work every day to provide care and services. It's what we do,” explained Beckerman-Pilcher.

Beckerman-Pilcher explained the process when examining patients.

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Karen Beckman-Pilcher, clinical nurse specialist at ECMC.

“Health teaching is done, a conversation is had, history is obtained and then the patient is allowed to regain control of what happened to him or her and based on that patient's history or what is reported to us and what they want done. We take it from there,” replied Beckerman-Pilcher.

Evidence is also collected.

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Sexual assault kit.

“Once we are done with that evidence and complete that kit, law enforcement clearly is involved. Crisis Services is clearly involved. We have a very strong collaborative relationship with Crisis Services,” responded Beckerman-Pilcher.

Bechman-Pilcher says the SANE team is ”fierce advocates” for sexual assault victims.

The team handles about 140-cases a year, but Bechman-Pilcher says sexual assault is “under-reported.”

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Outside ECMC.

“I know it would seem like a large number, but truly it isn't really reflected of really the scope of sexual assault. We know that only about 20 percent is reported. The 80-percent is not, so it seems like a large number — it really is just a scratch of the surface,” Beckerman-Pilcher said.

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Examination room at ECMC.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you are highly encouraged to seek care with the help of a crisis intervention team because trauma-informed care will be critical in healing:

  • Erie County Medical Center, (716) 898-6461, 462 Grider Street, Buffalo, NY 14215
  • Buffalo General Medical Center, 100 High Street, Buffalo, NY: (716) 748-2100 
  • Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, 1540 Maple Road, Williamsville, NY: (716) 568-6551 
  • Oishei Children's Hospital, 818 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY: (716) 323-2157
  • DeGraff Medical Park
  • Eastern Niagara Hospital
  • Kenmore Mercy Hospital
  • Mercy Ambulatory Care Center
  • Mercy Hospital of Buffalo
  • Mount St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Sisters of Charity Hospital
  • Sisters of Charity, St. Joseph Campus
  • Crisis Services of WNY: 716-834-3131 
  • YWCA of Niagara Frontier also provides a 24-7 domestic violence shelter, rape crisis advocacy, hospital accompaniment, and counseling to domestic violence and rape victims in Niagara County: 716-433-6716.
  • Restore: 1-800-527-1757
  • New York State also has resources for survivors. You can call the New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906