October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States and many professionals are speaking out about how crucial it is to pay attention to the signs that could help those in need, including Queensborough Community College nursing professor Barbara Rome.
The Bayside educator has spent more than 30 years as a forensic nurse who treats victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Rome grew up in Westchester and started her nursing career treating victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse at Putnam County Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital.
“Put simply, domestic violence is an urgent public health problem that deserves national attention,” Rome said.
According to Rome, she takes “deep pride in the fact that empathic healthcare practitioners are being recognized for their crucial, tireless work in shedding light on this pervasive issue.”
In the past, Rome has worked in emergency rooms treating traumatized victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, neglect and more. She has led comprehensive assessment procedures, collected evidence, administered medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and referred victims to crisis centers for assistance with healing.
Back when she started as a nurse a Queensborough in 2011, Rome recalled when these very basic health and counseling services for victims of domestic abuse were not accessible or readily available.
“Many years ago, I worked in ERs that often did not have the resources needed to provide expert medical care specific to victims of domestic abuse,” Rome said. “It was heartbreaking to see, and it was then I decided to take the training to help these victims. My life has been fulfilling caring for them. I remember when I started, [other forensic nurses and I] traveled to many area hospitals. The idea was to bring the care to the patient and not have the patient go to the care.”
Rome continues to teach the importance of domestic and sexual violence awareness as a professor at Queensborough, where she teaches the third semester clinical sequence including medical/surgical, women’s health and men’s health.
Some of her students have given presentations at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica on domestic violence, sexual assault and sexually transmitted diseases prevention.
“It was extremely successful,” said Rome.“My students conducted extensive research to prepare and afterward wrote service-learning reflection papers that were informed and insightful. I was enormously proud of them.”
Along with her students, Rome has given presentations to nursing students at Pace University, QCC, Iona College and Touro College. She has also presented to police officers and other frontline workers involved with domestic violence cases.
She continues her legacy of awareness with a 40-hour curriculum program she created that is certified by the National Association of Forensic Nurses and the NYS Department of Health. She has trained 10 new forensic nurses who are now on call while continuing to respond occasionally to Northern Westchester Hospital and Putnam Hospital.