We open with brief comments from our three main subjects: Jacquelyn Campbell of Johns Hopkins, and Colleen Moore and Debra Holbrook of Mercy Medical Center. They establish that it was not until the mid-1980s that the medical establishment began to acknowledge the impact of domestic violence on women’s health.
We follow Moore into the hospital as her workday begins. She explains that she got into this field because it’s work as a “practical feminist.” Her role is to help the hospital treat and document domestic violence injuries and to connect victims who need help with outside services.
Campbell then offers a brief account of how a conference led by the surgeon general in 1985 first recognized domestic violence as a health problem. There is a tragically wide range of injuries and illnesses caused by battering.
We then look at the ER. Nurses ask Mercy’s required screening questions of each patient. Dr. Stephen Schenkel, chair of the ER dept., stresses the importance of follow up. Campbell underscores the importance of how screening questions are asked.
In Ob/Gyn, Dr. Robert Atlas, chair, points out that one in eight women will be abused during pregnancy. Moore notes that abuse actually increases during pregnancy. She also says that Ob/Gyn department accounts for most of her case referrals.
Debra Holbrook then describes the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Unit. Mercy has recently expanded the program to include domestic violence and is working closely with the Baltimore police to allow for forensic examination of domestic violence victims. The hospital’s alternative light source technology has been a tremendous step forward in detecting strangulation.
We then follow Moore as she goes out to a community meeting — in this case, the Baltimore Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. Moore emphasizes that outreach is a major part of her job and a key to making sure that health care is included in a coordinated community response to family violence.