National recognition is well-deserved for the head of a hospital-based Omaha program that supports and treats rape victims. Anne Boatright, 32, received the “transformational leadership” award from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
She became a sexual assault nurse examiner several years ago, after feeling inadequately prepared to help a patient who had been raped. The specialized training changed the course of Boatright’s career.
Today she is coordinator of the Methodist Heidi Wilke Forensic Nurse Examiner program, which collects evidence for potential prosecutions and provides comfort and care for sex assault victims.
The program — the only forensic nursing program in the state — has grown from treating 27 cases of sexual assault in 2003 to an average of 30 cases a month. This year’s tally stood at 380 cases as of Dec. 5.
With 30 Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, the Methodist program is staffed 24/7. Community partners include the Omaha Police Department, the Douglas County Attorney’s Office and the Women’s Center for Advancement.
The effort has continued to evolve under Boatright’s leadership: A team of trained advocates from the WCA is now on duty full time on evenings and weekends at Methodist’s emergency room, an approach “unheard of” nationally, says Amy Richardson, WCA president and CEO, who suggested the change to Boatright.
Wilke, the rape victim who inspired the program, says Boatright has taken it “to a level I never envisioned.” Boatright told World-Herald columnist Michael Kelly, “I’m grateful to work at a place where people support your passion and your dreams and never take the wind out of your sails.”
With rape reports on the rise, Omaha is fortunate to have this program that gives victims skilled treatment, support and a sympathetic ear.