LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami confessed the dilemma he faced during the early days of the novel coronavirus when he contemplated the stay-at-home orders.
“They (potential victims) would be inside with each other,” Kawakami said Monday during a ceremony marking the start of National Forensic Nurses Week that is celebrated Nov. 9-13. “Sometimes, the only escape they have is to get out.”
Forensic Nurses provide nursing care, collect evidence, and provide consultation in areas including sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, death investigation, elder mistreatment, corrections, emergency services, mental health, and public health, states a Kaua‘i County Council announcement of the observance.
“The Kaua‘i Police Department is fortunate to have five such heroes who are Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners — Jennifer Anthony, Marlo Alaipalelei, Stephanie Huhn, Ceisha Judd, and Charlene Ono,” the Council announcement said. “During Forensic Nurses Week, nurses and other professionals who lead the healthcare system’s response to violence are being recognized around the world. The International Association of Forensic Nurses is the voice for Forensic Nurses and promotes forensic nursing strategies that prevent violence.”
Among the audience taking in the announcement being made at the KPD headquarters, a mother and a group of Waimea High School seniors quietly stood to the side.
“It would be great if this ceremony could be shared with the rest of the community on what an amazing job and service these nurses do for our community,” said Ranelle Ka‘awa, mother of Waimea High School student Keali‘imalu Ka‘awa. “I know that this is a small event in comparison to what is going on around the world, but I think it would be great to celebrate what a great service our little island provides.”
Ranelle served as inspiration for Keali‘imalu to get his friends — including Luke Dela Pena, Cole Taba, Wyatt Hartsell, Braden Sanpei, and Brayden Heu-Greenbaum — together to donate Beloved Bundles after coordinating a donation from Project Beloved: The Molly Jane Mission.
When a survivor goes to the hospital to have a forensic exam by a SANE and law enforcement is involved, often their belongings are seized as evidence, leaving them with nothing to wear home from the hospital. The Beloved Bundle includes clothing, undergarments, hygiene products, and other necessary items so the survivor can leave with dignity and know that someone cares.
“My mom is a forensic nurse,” Keali‘imalu said. “When she asked, I was more than happy to do this, and so were my friends.”
The proclamation from the mayor’s office states that Forensic Nurses are highly-educated professionals that continue to meet the increasingly complex forensic and healthcare needs of individuals, families, communities, populations, and systems worldwide. They work to increase victim-centered care and mitigate violence through public health strategies with both offender and victim.