ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — The Inova Health System has opened a clinic for patients who report sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, or human trafficking. Forensic and sexual assault nurse examiners are staffed to help patients who have been referred by law enforcement, a physician, an advocacy center or hotline. 

The Inova Ewing FACT Department is open two to four days a week during regular business hours, but the nurse examiners are on-call 24/7 at Inova hospitals. Its services are open to all ages. Patients do not have to be residents of Alexandria — or even Virginia. 

Clinical Manager Ariel Ward says the facility’s end goal isn’t solely to help detectives solve a crime. Patients don’t have to file charges if they don’t want to. “We’re really lucky in Northern Virginia to have such great support. All of our patients get some sort of advocacy help; so whether that’s counseling or shelter, whatever they need, so without that comprehensive approach their safety is at risk, really.”

The office has two exam rooms. One is filled with toys and colorful artwork to make underage patients feel more comfortable. “People walk in terrified, upset, traumatized, and 99% of the time they walk out smiling and happy and feeling that they were validated,” said Ward, “that they got the medical treatment and that somebody listened to them.”

“Not only are we so extremely lucky to have the support of the Ewung family, but Inova as a health system is extremely committed to taking care of these patients all over Northern Virginia and making access as easy as possible,” Ward said.