An Unhealthy Situation

And Evans hasn't gone away. (Since I occasionally play poker with her, I can vouch for her staying power. And the fact that she doesn't bluff. And the fact that she almost always wins.)

Evans isn't the only one to criticize Denver Health. Cops complain that the hospital's refusal to work with their advocates--even when the victim herself has requested a visit--has hampered investigations; in one recent case, the hospital failed to notify the police that it had admitted a domestic-violence victim until after the woman had lapsed into a coma and could no longer speak to an officer. Other agencies, including the district attorney's office, which has its own advocate program, are quick to praise the DPD's Victim Assistance Unit. And they wonder why Denver Health refuses to use it.

Because Denver Health is the local center for handling victims of violence, Earnest says, it has experience and resources that other local hospitals do not. But when hospital officials recently revisited their procedures, he acknowledges, they determined that "Dr. Evans's observation about the policy was accurate." Today the hospital is in the process of revising that policy, says Earnest, "so that if a patient or member of a patient's family requests the service [of a DPD victim advocate], it is available." (Presuming, of course, that the patient already knows the service exists.) And Denver Health is also working on a plan, due sometime in the middle of this month, "to have our system be more in touch with the community groups that want to be more in touch with us."

But many of those groups remain untouched--precisely because they say they have yet to be contacted by Denver Health.

Victims deserve better. Especially since the DPD's Victim Assistance Unit could be the best there is.

Visit to read "Hitting Them Where They Live," Westword's domestic violence series.

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