On Tuesday, June 25th Jefferson Healthcare officially launched a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. This program will offer services to a very important and vulnerable patient population within our community and has been an unfulfilled need until now. The work for the SANE program started over a year ago and was spearheaded by Hospital Commissioners, Mike Glenn, CNO, Dr. Molly Parker, Joyce Cardinal, former CNO, Tina Toner, CNO, Cindy Kratochvil, Director Emergency Department, Katie-Rose Fischer-Price, SANE Program Coordinator, Terri Stewart from Harborview Medical Center and a very committed group of nurses.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners have specialized training in forensic, psychosocial and medical care after a sexual assault. SANEs treat patients holistically with compassionate and comprehensive care that takes into account the survivors’ acute care needs as well as the possible long-term effects of a sexual assault. They have been shown to provide enhanced physical and mental health care, deliver better evidence collection and support higher prosecution rates. The SANE program will be providing services to patients who are 13 and older. Current Jefferson County data suggests that four to ten sexual assault exams are requested within this age group per year. However, it is expected that this number will increase now that the service has become available. Prior to the development of this program, survivors seeking forensic services were required to travel at least one hour by car to another facility.
Early in the planning process, a goal was set to create a quality program of nurses who can deliver reliable, compassionate and thorough care. Jefferson Healthcare plans to achieve this through a preceptor program, case review and a close partnership with community stakeholders for feedback and continued improvement. In order to ensure that the work of our SANEs stand up in court, Jefferson Healthcare has developed practice policies and procedures in accordance with Washington State and national guidelines. Jefferson Healthcare chose to serve only adolescent and adult populations as pediatric sexual assault care is a sub-specialty of forensic nursing that requires very specialized training. Jefferson Healthcare will continue to work with the Dove House to support pediatric survivors of sexual assault through emergency room medical clearance, and then facilitating transportation to Harrison or another facility with experts in pediatric sexual assault exams.
“I am so grateful for the level of commitment that Jefferson Healthcare has shown throughout this process. Not only the hospital but the Dove House, the local law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor’s office have all devoted time and expertise to the development and success of this program. Community-wide dedication like this is rare and humbling.” –Katie-Rose Fischer-Price, SANE Program Coordinator.
The first year of the program will be focused on training staff and gathering data to better understand how to best serve the needs of our community. Jefferson Healthcare has hired 3 experienced SANE nurses and 4 additional and extremely motivated nurses who are currently being trained. In rural areas, it is a challenge to balance forensic competency with adequate staffing due to the unpredictability and fluctuating numbers of cases. Many hospitals, especially rural hospitals struggle to staff a 24/7 SANE program. Jefferson Healthcare hopes to mitigate this problem by implementing a graduated availability model, starting with an as-available model with the hope to transition to a 24/7 on-call model once enough staff have been trained.
“I am really proud of the program that has been created and proud to work with an organization that is committed to meeting the needs of their community. Without the team’s vision, heart and hard work, this would not be a reality,” stated Tina Toner, CNO.
Community Coordinated Response (CCR) meetings are open quarterly meetings that are held by the Dove House, Prosecutor’s office and Sheriff’s Department to discuss sex crimes in Jefferson County. SANE Coordinator, Katie-Rose Fischer-Price will present information about the new program at the next meeting on July 26th from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in the BOCC in the basement of the courthouse. Community members are encouraged to attend and learn more about this important addition to the Jefferson Healthcare service lines.