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A Night As an Advocate

June 14, 2011

by Megan Close, Direct Services Coordinator, Sexual Violence Center

It’s 2:30 a.m. I’m woken up by my ringtone, Revolution by the Beatles.

“Hello.”
“Hey, there’s an advocacy request at Hennepin County Medical Center.”
“Alright, I’m there.”

I quickly get dressed, grab some snacks in case it takes a while, and head off towards downtown Minneapolis. When I arrive, I quickly check in with triage and security, then make my way towards the victim/survivors room. I knock on the door.

“Come in.”

I have no idea what or who to expect on the other side of the door. Once I’m in the room, I try and get a feel for how the client may be doing and adjust my approach accordingly.

“Hi, I’m _______. I’m an advocate from the Sexual Violence Center. We come to the hospital as a support for you while you’re here. We aren’t part of the hospital or law enforcement. We are our own separate piece. I have information that I can give you. I can answer questions that you may have. I can help ensure that what you want to have done is being done and what you don’t want to be done isn’t being done. I can be as involved or as uninvolved as you’d like me to be. Okay?”

“Mmhmm.”
“Do you have any questions for me right away?”

After introductions, a sexual assault nurse examiner arrives. I settle in and get to know the client that I’ll be spending the night in the emergency room with. There are moments when I’m unsure of where to go next and if I’m addressing the needs of the client to the fullest.

Am I saying the right thing? Is there a ‘right’ thing to say? What does the client need? I make sure that they have a safe way of getting home from the hospital, assess what resources may be helpful for them later or help them access services that night if the need is immediate. I inform them of the services that are available at SVC. I keep the client as comfortable as possible while keeping them company during a truly exhausting process.

When the client goes home, so do I. I return to my bed at close to 6 a.m. and try to get my body to realize that, in fact, it’s not time to get up but rather time to go to bed. This doesn’t take long; soon I’m fast asleep…again.

Learn more about medical advocacy and how you can help at the Sexual Violence Center’s website.

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