Forensic Center of Excellence

The FCOE is the 1st hospital-based center in the world, serving victims of violence throughout Colorado. Specialized nurses provide wraparound services to patients in a trauma-informed space. The FCOE is an international exemplar of medical forensic care, hub for collaboration, and leader in innovation.

forensic exams provided at UCHealth Memorial Hospital last year

In June of 2024 the Forensic Center of Excellence was approved as an El Paso County Enterprise Zone project. State income tax credits equal to 25% of monetary contributions and 12.5% of in-kind contributions are available to Colorado taxpayers who make charitable contributions to the FCOE. 


Lead research to determine the relationship between strangulation and traumatic brain injury.

The Forensic Center of Excellence is a pioneer in the field, contributing to the body of work for medical forensic care. Medical Director, Dr. Trop is leading a bio-marker research study to accurately diagnose traumatic brain injury (TBI) in victims of strangulation that would otherwise be missed by traditional imaging.

If the study can conclusively prove that strangulation causes medically diagnosable traumatic brain injury, this evidence will strengthen the case for victims of violence that choose to seek legal recourse against their attacker.


Eliminate barriers to prophylactic HIV medication.

PEP, or post-exposure-prophylactic HIV medication protects victims of violence from contracting the virus up to 72 hours after exposure and must be taken in a strict frequency to ensure effectiveness. The full course of medication costs up to $1,800 and victims often forgo this medication  due to financial strain. Few pharmacies stock the medication, and if the prescription is needed after-hours or on weekends, no 24-hour pharmacies exist in El Paso, Teller, or Pueblo counties.

Two-pronged, our approach is to provide low or no-cost PEP to those that would benefit from this course of medication and to install at least one 24-hour pharmacy kiosk at Memorial Hospital Central.

Workforce Development

Enhance the expertise of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) throughout Colorado.

A pillar of the Forensic Center of Excellence is it’s dedication to education. In addition to serving as the SANE/SAFE educator for the state of Colorado, the FCOE offers preceptorship for aspiring or established rural Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). Preceptorship allows these nurses gain experience from the 25 Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) housed at the FCOE, as well as to the volume and variety of patients served there.

Developing skills in a state-of-the-art setting that serves nearly 3000 patients annually enhances SANEs expertise as they return to serve their rural communities.

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About the FCOE

In April 2023 UCHealth opened the first-of-its-kind Forensic Center of Excellence (FCOE) embedded within the Emergency Department of UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central.  This space enables the Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) team to provide direct patient care in an environment that incorporates trauma-informed design elements with dedicated space for advocacy services and access to law enforcement. In addition, this space allows for education and preceptorship opportunities and a dedicated telehealth space in order to expand access to expert forensic care throughout Colorado. Explore a map of the space here.

What is a “Center of Excellence”?

Centers of excellence, are defined as specialized programs within healthcare institutions which supply exceptionally high concentrations of expertise and resources. They deliver care in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary fashion. Additionally, many CoE definitions include innovation as a key component.

UCHealth Memorial’s program is a high volume, longstanding department that provides comprehensive care to all victims of violence. Over half of the FNE team members carry one or more Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certifications, this is emblematic of their commitment to excellence and professional nursing practice. Members of the FNE team present and teach at the local, state and national level and several team members have published in professional journals. The FNE team is deeply embedded in our community and have relationships with our community partners and the multidisciplinary team.

For the past decade, UCHealth Memorial’s FNE program has provided high quality, state-wide education free of charge to the entire state of Colorado. The expansion to teleSANE services reflects not only their commitment to ensuring that all patients in Colorado, regardless of location, receive the highest quality care, but is a great example of innovation. Additionally, the FNE team engages in nursing research in order to increase the body of knowledge for forensic nursing and improve patient care.

Sarah Hagedorn, MSN, RN, CCRN, SANE-A, SANE-P, Clinical Manager, SANE/SAFE Project Director gives a tour of the Forensic Center of Excellence while under construction.

Partners of the FCOE


Safe Passage

Colorado Springs Police Department

El Paso County Sheriff’s Department

Colorado Department of Public Safety

United States Office for Victims of Crime


Communities Served via teleSANE 

Montrose, Telluride, Salida, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Craig, Cortez, Gunnison, Glenwood Springs, Trinidad, Burlington, Hugo, Springfield and Lamar




 Want to learn more?

Read more in the recent articles from:


The Colorado Sun

The Gazette



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