Gov. Martin O’Malley recently appointed MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Vice President, Nursing, MaryLou Watson to serve as a member of the Planning Committee to Implement Improved Access to Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations in Maryland.  Last spring, O’Malley signed into law House Bill 963, establishing the Hospitals – Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations and Planning Committee.

“It is an honor to be appointed to the board, and I feel that establishing protocols for hospitals and creating a board will better serve a population that is in need of the combined talent from across the state.  At MedStar St. Mary’s, we want to ensure that domestic violence victims who visit our hospital do not fall through the cracks, but are instead given our full attention and the many resources to improve their situation and better their lives,” Watson said.

In January, MedStar St. Mary’s initiated a Domestic Violence (DV) Program using both State and private grants.  The program educates and trains hospital associates to identify victims and refer them to collaborating agencies.  In the first six months of the program, and through the leadership of Yvonne Dawkins, RN, trained hospital staff has identified more than 150 victims and provided them with information on services available to them.  The program’s training has developed a system with protocols and processes that teach how to identify domestic violence, and connect the victims with resources in the community.

The board’s first meeting as a committee will be on Nov. 13 in Columbia, Maryland.  Watson’s board appointment term will run until June 30, 2016.