THE PROTECTORS...by Mat Edelson

Child abuse cases arrive in the pediatric emergency department with heartbreaking frequency. Meet the medical team that’s first on the scene.

The pre-schooler bouncing around Exam Room 3 of the pediatric emergency room is that iridescent combination of precociousness and politeness uniquely the domain of garrulous 4-year-old girls. “I need to wash my hands,” announces the child, gently peeling a pink butterfly sticker off her tiny right hand. Moments later, washed and dried with two towels (“Two at a time!” she squeals), her beaded, neat cornrows disappear under a window shade. “Look!” exclaims the slightly muffled voice, whose owner is now staring up into the dusk. “The Moon! It looks just like a cookie!”

The observers in the room laugh, but the girl’s mom is not among the smiling. In fact, mom’s not even in the room. She’s 50 feet away, on the other side of electronically secured double doors that she could not breach if she wanted to—and she most certainly does. For while she is known to the little girl as “Momma,” to the two security guards, one police officer, two social workers, crime lab photographer, nurse practitioner and pediatrician who stand between her and her baby, the woman now wears a far more ominous moniker: Alleged abuser...

(Read the full story at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/hmn/s08/feature2.cfm)

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