Published on October 04, 2022

doctor checking patient

How the Hospital’s New Tower Will Support Nurses Helping Victims of Abuse

“The new tower is going to impact our patients by providing them with a more private and streamlined Emergency Department experience,” says Jessica Volz, Medical Director of the Forensic Medical Unit at Adventist Shady Grove Medical Center.

Shady Grove is home to Montgomery County’s only Forensic Medical Unit (FMU), with nurses specially trained to care for victims of abuse, neglect, assault and human trafficking.

The FMU serves as a safe space for anyone who needs forensic examinations. “Forensic nursing serves as a bridge between the legal system and medical system,” says Jessica. “We’ve come to realize that a patient isn’t just a patient with medical needs and a patient isn’t just a victim with legal needs. A patient is a person who has many needs.”

Domestic violence and sexual abuse are growing issues in the United States. While COVID-19 lockdowns may have slowed the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic, such restrictions came with a rise in cases of domestic violence locally and across the country.

Growing rates of domestic violence and assault have created a need for expansion of forensic nursing services. When it first opened, Shady Grove’s FMU consisted of a couple of on-call nurses. Now, the unit has a full-time team of eight caregivers, ready 24/7 to serve anyone who has been abused, assaulted, or neglected. The unit’s goal is to make victims feel understood and well cared for. Caregivers in the FMU have been specially trained and certified in assault examinations.

How The New Tower Impacts Forensic Medical Services

The new, state-of-the-art tower under construction at Shady Grove Medical Center will bring the hospital a replacement Emergency Department, with treatment bays that are more private and spacious. Jessica estimates that as many has half of the patients seeking the FMU’s services enter through the Emergency Department.

"The new Emergency Department will provide patients who have experienced sexual assault and intimate partner violence with the privacy they need to receive the best care possible," she says.  This added sense of comfort alights with the unit’s and the hospital’s holistic approach to serving the community. Nurses look at a patient’s physical injuries or emotional needs, but also take special care to make sure patients have everything they need to move forward once they leave the unit and return home. Shady Grove’s tower expansion will enhance the FMU’s ability to provide this essential, whole-person care to our community.  

If you or a loved one needs support from the FMU, call 240-826-6225 for confidential help. To support the work of Shady Grove Medical Center’s forensic nurses with a financial give to the new tower, visit and click Make a Gift.

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.