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Jefferson Healthcare Announces SANE Program

Jefferson Healthcare recently authorized the implementation of a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program. A SANE task force committee led by Dr. Molly Parker made their recommendation to the board during the October 24 meeting, and the board unanimously and enthusiastically accepted their recommendation and proposed budget.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners have specialized training to conduct forensic examinations shown to provide better physical and mental health care for assault survivors, deliver better evidence collection and support higher prosecution rates. Most important, SANEs treat patients holistically with compassionate and comprehensive care that takes into account the patient’s current acute care needs and the possible long-term effects of sexual assault. Currently, four to ten people need exams per year and there is no SANE program in Jefferson County. The current options require victims to travel one hour by car to a facility, because of this fewer victims seek exams due to travel and time constraints.

The task force met several times throughout the summer to evaluate the feasibility of developing and maintaining a high quality, effective SANE Program at Jefferson Healthcare. The task force sought the input of Harborview Medical Center’s SANE program Executive Director, local law enforcement and several social service programs such as the DOVE house. Decided requirements for the program were to create a quality program of experienced nurses who are able to deliver smooth, compassionate, thorough care to “Start the healing process”. This will be achieved through training and a preceptor program, case review and close partnership with partners for feedback and improvement. It is also important to create an effective program that stands up in court, this will be accomplished with standard policies and procedures. The task force examined several available models to determine a plan which satisfies the unique qualities in a rural community like Jefferson County. Experienced and available staffing is a concern, this will be addressed using a graduated program, starting with an as-available staffing model. Once an adequate number of SANE nurses are trained and have experience with exams the program will shift to an on-call staffing model. The time-line goal to transition to the on-call model will be approximately a year.

“I’m thrilled that we will be establishing a SANE program right here at home, at Jefferson Healthcare. Our patients, friends, and neighbors who need this service will be able to access a local, quality program, again advancing our Jefferson Healthcare goal of providing ‘whole person care.’ Although the budget shows this program will cost the hospital money yearly, the administration and commissioners clearly embraced the need and are committed to taking that loss so that our community benefits. We hope to work with local partners to help fund this program to ensure it is sustainable,” stated Dr. Molly Parker.

Many hospitals, especially rural hospitals, struggle to staff a 24/7 SANE program. Many times only one or two nurses are trained at a time to collect forensic evidence. The limited number of available SANEs results in the same nurse always being on-call, causing high burn out and high turnover rate. Jefferson Healthcare expects to mitigate this problem through coordinated training, on-call pool.

Since the October 24th board meeting a program coordinator has been hired and SANE training, provided by Harborview’s SANE program Executive Director, is scheduled to occur at Jefferson Healthcare in February.  14 nurses have expressed interest in the training and look forward to participating in this program. All costs associated with the training will be borne by Jefferson Healthcare.

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