The Bon Secours Richmond Forensic Nursing Program in Richmond, VA responds to about 2,500 calls for service a year, making it one of the busiest forensic nursing programs in the country. This program provides care to patients 24/7 who have been victims of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse, human trafficking, and strangulation.
Founded in 1993, the program was ahead of its time and was created prior to forensic nursing becoming officially accepted as a nursing specialty. It’s because of Bonnie Price, administrative director for community health advocacy for Bon Secours’ Richmond market, and her forward thinking 26 years ago that the Bon Secours forensic nursing program exists today.
Bonnie originally joined Bon Secours – St. Mary’s Hospital as a nurse in the emergency department. Soon after her arrival, she became interested in patients who were victims of a crime.
“I noticed a gap in the education to properly care for this vulnerable population,” says Bonnie.
After attending a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training program in Northern Virginia, she then brought a forensic nursing program, along with two other nurses, to St. Mary’s Hospital. The SANE program, the first of its kind in Central Virginia, educates nurses on how to best care for victims during examination.
Bon Secours’ forensic nursing team is made up of nurses who are specially trained to care for this most vulnerable patient population. They are well versed in best practices for helping patients make informed choices following devastating events. They are also certified to gather and preserve biological evidence in a trauma-informed way and provide it to local law enforcement. Today, the program currently serves the communities in 42 cities, counties and towns across Central Virginia.
In the field of forensic nursing, the turnover rate is high. Not many nurses are able to handle the emotional impact of this profession. Thus, Bonnie’s long-term tenure is a rare find. One of the many qualities that allows Bonnie to succeed in this field is being able to compartmentalize her work from daily life.
“I’m completely committed to the work I do every day, but I’m also very passionate about making sure both my patients and my team feel supported,” Bonnie says.
Outside of her forensic nursing duties, Bonnie is also a founding member of the Richmond Regional Human Trafficking Collaborative. This group is made up of attorneys, federal, state and local law enforcement, victim and social services, advocacy agencies, and health care providers that meet regularly to discuss human trafficking in the Richmond area. Their goal is to make sure the health care needs of trafficking victims are being met.
Bonnie has also been instrumental in Bon Secours’ partnership with Safe Harbor, an eight-bed shelter for women who have experienced trafficking. Safe Harbor provides housing, transportation, physical and mental support services, and job training to victims of trafficking or sexual and domestic violence. The facility is made up of both an emergency shelter and transition shelter. Together, they help to change the lives of those affected by human trafficking.
During Bonnie’s nearly three decades of experience in the field, she received the International Association of Forensic Nurses Virginia A. Lynch Pioneer Award. She is also involved in Wine, Women & Shoes, an event hosted by the Bon Secours Richmond Health Care Foundation. The proceeds from this event go to the Bon Secours Forensic Nursing program.
Learn more about how Bon Secours is committed to ending human trafficking.