Letters to the Editor

LMH gap

October 6, 2009


To the editor:

There is a new 46,000-square-foot cardiology department with four doctors who chose to stay and space enough for related clinics. The IT department will occupy a new $6.2 million building. A new $14 million surgery department vacates 14,000 square feet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. All of this and other aspects of Sunday’s article are good for the Lawrence community. CEO Gene Meyer speculated about the next areas of LMH that deservedly need expansion and updating. A growing community needs a comprehensive medical center. Bravo!

Yet nowhere in that article did CEO Meyer even hint at LMH’s abysmal inability to care for victims of sex crimes in this same community, a topic disclosed again recently in the Journal-World. LMH does not have an allotted space and/or trained nursing staff to properly and compassionately provide care for and collect evidence from victims of rape. Instead they have to endure further humiliation and torment being escorted to Topeka to collect evidence.

Maybe CEO Meyer at the behest of the district attorney is trying to find some little corner of that newly available 14,000-square-foot space and spend a bit of those millions to establish a rape victims clinic at LMH. Perhaps it might induce one reluctant rape victim, not to mention those willing to report, to feel more secure seeking help if she weren’t going to be bused out of town. CEO Meyer, if a rape victim’s clinic is part of your active planning stage, it would have been nice to hear about it.


beachmama 8 years, 6 months ago

I knew as soon as I saw the expansion article in the J-W that somehow this was going to be used to fuel the attack on the LMH sexual assault team - and their policies. Surely the timing of the article was poor. Could it possibly be that the J-W has an agenda? And that their agenda has little to do with accurately reporting facts? It's so much easier to mindlessly regurgitate the words of our illustrious DA without ever checking to see how much basis in truth his charges have. Could our DA have an agenda of his own? You think? A politician with an agenda? What a concept.

Virtually every fact in each of these articles about LMH turning away rape victims has been twisted almost beyond recognition. And if anyone on a sexual assault team had ever been given a chance to respond to ANY of these charges, the perception of the general public would be very different. We are a small group of people who are dedicated to providing the best possible care for victims of sexual assault in our community. Sometimes - such as in the case of a pediatric patient - the best possible care involves transferring them to a facility that specializes in the unique psychosocial and physical aspects of doing a pediatric rape kit. And sometimes - such as the night that triggered this whole firestorm, when three victims presented at roughly the same time - patients get transferred to the facility that can do the rape kit in the most timely manner. It takes 3-4 hours to properly do a forensic exam, and if there is one nurse available to do the exams it is certainly in the victim's best interest to go to a facility that can provide that - fast. Lest you think that LMH is the only hospital around with only one SANE nurse on call, you might want to rethink that. LMH is by no means the only facility in the greater Kansas City area that operates on the same staffing level, and it accepts victims from other hospitals when they experience the same multiple victim/same time scenario that LMH did.

It's very difficult to hear criticisms of any program from people who truly have not been given access to all the facts. It's also difficult when people in the same sort of "helping fields" jump on the bandwagon without really knowing what they're talking about. And it's particularly hard knowing that all of us who do these exams do it out of compassion and a desire to promote the greater good. Because believe me, doing a rape kit is a brutally draining - and life altering - experience. The fact that we all volunteer to be SANE trained should speak volumes to the fact that most people simply are not cut out for it.

I must have missed the day in training where they taught you to turn the other cheek when you got crucified in the press - all because of inaccurate reporting based on erroneous facts picked up by concerned citizens who don't know what they're talking about.

bambi 8 years, 6 months ago

Thank you Beachmama. Your compassion speaks loudly. I would be willing to bet our DA relys strongly on your professionalism to be able to prosecute his cases. I am proud people like you are here for us.

freestatehawk 8 years, 6 months ago

A rape clinic sounds like a good idea. Fully staffed 24/7/365 for ~40 visits per annum. Hmmmm.....now why did my health insurance premiums just go up?

bambi 8 years, 6 months ago

24/7 RAPE Clinic? How about we focus our attention to stopping the rapes? Why not put our resources into prosecuting perpetrators...what are the statistics relating alcohol to rape? Maybe if we can curb the alcohol consumption rate a residual effect would be fewer rapes... How about peer pressure... let's talk about how horrific this act is and stop makeing excuses... and women/girls start staying together in groups... friends don't let friends go with strangers or walk in dark alleys alone! Then maybe Lawrence Memorial can cut back on SANE RN's!

snoozey 8 years, 6 months ago

To my understanding the rape kit processing is a forensic rather than medical process. It is a gathering of evidence - not a treatment of wounds. To my mind the real question is why the victims should be thrust into the glaring, garish public circus of an ER to have this done? Surely it would be much more sensible and caring to have this done quietly in a secluded room by trained forensic personnel. It's not unreasonable to expect that a location with more privacy and dignity than an ER could be located, preferably with counseling and support staff available.

GardenMomma 8 years, 6 months ago

First, the E.R. has secluded rooms. It does take several hours to collect evidence for the rape kit. A trained nurse is the proper way to collect such evidence - not through a "forensic personnel." Counseling and support staff are part of the treatment, I'm sure.

Second, none of the victims that were transported from LMH to another hospital were denied medical care. They were first treated and then transferred for speedy collection of sexual assault evidence.

LMH does its very best to give everyone that walks through its doors the best treatment possible, sometimes that entails transferring a patient to a facility with better equipment and treatments that are not available at LMH.

Bob Harvey 8 years, 6 months ago

There really are no words to adequately describe the misrepresentations and fallacies of what is being "reported" by our local newspaper and our (soon to be unelected) DA. That the general public takes these reports as truth is not their fault. Well, perhaps that's not totally true. How many other stories have come out that have been met with scepticism, disbelief and a hailstorm of counter arguments. But say something negative about the hospital, the dedicated staff and Gene Meyer and everything has to be true...hell it was reported as gospel.

Why is there no respect for the people who have dedicated their lives to serve this community? Has the media so tainted your view of life? I have been personally involved with the very same people you try so hard to criticize and I can only ask myself why. Why do they continue to work for you, 24/7/365? Why do they care about you and your demanding and demeaning ways?

Probably because its not about you. It will always be about them. It will be about their caring and compassion, regardless of how you treat them, either in your thoughts or in the press.

LMH will be there for you. That's one thing that you can count on.

jafs 8 years, 6 months ago

If the articles were incorrect, you all can/should sue the LJW for libel/slander, or at the very least, demand that they correct it.

jafs 8 years, 6 months ago

And, the point remains valid that many hospitals, including LMH, seem to be spending huge amounts of money on things that don't directly improve patient care.

Most patients would prefer that patient care be improved.

Jmed 8 years, 6 months ago

Thank you - beachmama, bambi, edjayhawk, gardenmomma and pleiku! Well said! It's about time the truth comes out!!

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