Michelle Stratton, RN and forensic nursing program coordinator at Blanchard Valley Hospital, has been named the 2018 International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) Ohio Chapter Forensic Nurse of the Year.

Forensic nurses of the year are providers who contribute to the development of teaching, disseminating information and/or promoting forensic nursing in their communities. Among other requirements, forensic nurses of the year must have made significant contributions to the development of forensic nursing through leadership at a local, state and/or national level.

A Blanchard Valley Health System employee for the past 10 years, Stratton’s role includes managing the schedule of the forensic nursing program, training new sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) nurses and budgeting forensic nursing program funds. Stratton has helped identify grants for this program to create private exam rooms for sexual assault victims and provide items to comfort them such as robes, lotions and clean clothes. She also educates the community on sexual assault and domestic violence in eight counties.

Sexual assault nurse examiners provide physical examinations after an assault occurs, striving to make a traumatic experience a little more bearable. The nurses receive special training to meet survivors’ needs. An advocate, friends or family, or staff from Open Arms Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services can also be present or nearby if the individual wishes.

Martha Rothey, development officer at the Blanchard Valley Health Foundation, and Jessica Schetter, RN, nominated Stratton for this award.

“Stratton identified a need within her department to better serve victims of sexual assault, collaborated with other departments to receive a grant, and successfully implemented in one year a 24/7 on-call forensic nursing program to meet the needs of some of BVH’s most traumatized patients,” explained Rothey.

“She is a role model for staff and has inspired many nurses to become SANE nurses,” added Schetter.

Stratton, in a statement, said, “I am honored to receive this recognition and will continue striving to deliver the highest quality of care to sexual assault victims in our community.”

Forensic nurses are available at both Blanchard Valley and Bluffton hospitals. For more information, call Blanchard Valley Hospital at 419-423-5207 or Bluffton Hospital at 419-358-9010. A SANE educational brochure is also available for download at bvhealthsystem.org.