CROWN POINT | Coroner Merrilee D. Frey Tuesday hosted thirty Purdue Calumet nursing students for a presentation plus a questions and answer session on how her specialty in Forensic Nursing has made a positive difference in her role as Lake County Coroner.
Frey is an R.N., B.S.N., M.S. and Forensic Nurse Medico Legal Death Investigator. Frey was contacted by Maureen T. Marthaler, an Associate Professor of Nursing at Purdue University Calumet, who teaches a course in Forensic Nursing.
“My student nurses had attended the human trafficking victim presentation in Hammond which raised their awareness relating to these issues,” Marthaler said. “I wanted them to see there were practical applications to this nursingspecialty and Coroner Frey welcomed us with open arms.”
During the two-hour session, Frey shared a Power Point Presentation on the role of the Forensic Nurse Examiner as a Medico legal Death Investigator. She also discussed evidence collection, forensic photography and the scope of responsibility of the Forensic Nurse Examiner.
“I was first introduced to this specialty in 2008 by Leslie Cook, R.N., B.S.N., who has served two terms as Adams County Coroner, as a Forensic Nurse,” Frey said. “As a Medico Legal Death Investigator, with my twenty-five years of experience as an R.N. and Director of Domestic Relations Family Court for over a decade, I am qualified to care for grieving families and to serve in a critical role in the death investigation process”.
Additionally, Frey discussed her passion for decreasing the number of preventable deaths in Lake County as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“Within my first week of office, we cared for two infants who had died from SIDS,” Frey said. “These are preventable deaths, and I will reach out to the community to educate new moms and dads on how to prevent such tragic loss.”
For more than forty-five minutes, Frey fielded many questions from the nursing student. Many of the nurses wanted specific details on when they should contact the coroner, in the event their patient would expire.
Frey ended the session with a challenge to the student nurses in the Forensic Nursing class. She challenged them to use their medical credentials to make a difference in their community.
“When I was in nursing school I was determined to make a positive impact in the lives of my neighbors in Lake County,” Frey said. “Today I stand before you as a proud nurse who has the opportunity on a daily basis, to make a difference in the lives of the people of Lake County, and I am honored.”
Frey ended the session with an invitation to the students to stay and discuss more about the coroner’s office and the medico legal death investigation process, which the entire class accepted.