Shore Health Nurse Initiates Operation Power Purse Program

Shore Health System recently kicked off “Operation Power Purse,” a new program to help sexual assault victims on the road to recovery.

After a sexual assault, women may come to Dorchester General Hospital or Memorial Hospital at Easton for a forensic exam. Since their clothing is often a key piece of evidence for law enforcement, the women often do not have any clothes to wear home other than paper scrubs given to them in the emergency department.

Through Operation Power Purse, victims will be given a bag filled with a change of clothes, toiletries and other personal items.

“Going through the experience of a sexual assault and the subsequent forensic exam is a traumatizing experience for these victims,” says Jessica Fluharty, RN, FNE-A, who initiated the Operation Power Purse program. “We hope that by giving them back a bit of their dignity, we can give these women a healthy and safe new start after such a terrible event.”

Donations of gently worn clothing, new packs of undergarments and socks as well as toiletries, such as shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste are needed to create the “Power Purses.” Donation boxes are set up in the waiting room areas of the emergency departments at Dorchester General Hospital and Memorial Hospital at Easton and at the Queen Anne’s Emergency Center. The Drop-off boxes at Zambino’s restaurant in Easton and MacSorley Real Estate in Cambridge will be available through the month of April.

Monetary donations are also being accepted for the Operation Power Purse program. Donations can be sent to the Memorial Hospital Foundation, Operation Power Purse, 219 S. Washington Street, Easton, Maryland 21601.

Operation Power Purse is an initiative of the Shore Health Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) program. The SAFE program meets the needs of sexually assault victims by providing immediate, compassionate, culturally sensitive and comprehensive forensic evaluation and treatment by a trained nurse expert. In place since the early 1990s, the SAFE program provides first-response care 24 hours a day to adults and children who have been the victims of sexual assault.

A forensic nurse is a nurse who has completed specialized training in forensic evidence collection. SAFE nurses are also trained to obtain a preliminary patient history and to conduct a physical examination, including a pelvic exam, to collect appropriate evidence.

“The SAFE nurse has a crucial role during the initial interactions with patients reporting sexual abuse or assault, since it is likely that the victims have been subjected to psychological and physical trauma,” says Karen Jackson, RN, FNE A/P, Coordinator for Shore Health’s SAFE program. “We hope that Operation Power Purse can make a major difference in how victims of assault feel about their experience in a hospital.”

For more information about the Operation Power Purse program, contact Jessica Fluharty at 410-822-1000, ext. 7976 or

In photo: Jessica Fluharty, RN, FNE-A, collects some of the toiletries needed to create a “power purse” for victims of sexual assault.