Letter expresses outrage about rape crisis center - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Letter expresses outrage about rape crisis center

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - For the first time, a nurse who works at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center is expressing outrage over the problems the center is facing.

After reports of delayed critical tests for rape victims at the rape crisis center, Action News 5 discovered many of the forensic nurses were fired after the city enforced its residency requirement.

This left the center short-staffed. Then then Nursing Director Judy Pinson left.

Since then, angry and concerned citizens have fired off scathing statements to the media about the recent problems. And now for the first time, forensic nurse examiner Sally DiScenza is talking about what really happened at the center, in a letter to the editor in Friday's Commercial Appeal.

DiScenza wrote, "I can no longer sit by silently as I watch our center, which was a model of excellence in the United States, continue to decline. The citizens of this region and the victims of sexual assault deserve better."

DiScenza's comments were in response to a shortage of specially trained nurses available to victims of sexual assault.  Prosecutors fear if the Center is not fully staffed, that could interfere with the gathering of evidence for possible prosecution of alleged suspects.  In their eyes the delays are unacceptable and could compromise potential criminal cases.

But DiScenza says the District Attorney's office didn't listen Pinson's warnings.  In her letter, DiScenza says Pinson warned city managers and the District Attorney Bill Gibbons about the serious nursing shortage. 

Gibbons says the rape crisis center has been without an administrator for a year, and that has made it difficult to hire qualified nurses.
DiScenza wrote that Pinson left because she was not valued, respected, or listened to.

DiScenza questioned,  "Why did she have to resign and let the whole center come crumbling down to finally get someone to listen?"

Action News 5 contacted city officials for comment Friday.  We were told no one was available to speak with us on camera, but we should submit any questions we have in writing.

Dr. Betty Winter, the Rape Crisis Center's new director, is expected to be on the job by the end of the month.

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