Frisco: St. Anthony’s SANE program goes beyond emergency room
summit daily news
Victims of sexual assault might feel lost about where to turn after such an event occurs. At St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program aims to help put victims at ease.
The SANE program provides specialized care to people who have been assaulted. Specially trained nurses are on-call 24/7, every day of the year, to give patients one-on-one care. SANE has a special waiting room and exam room within the hospital.
SANE programs can be located all over the country, but there are only 13 in Colorado. St. Anthony’s SANE program coordinator Jennifer McConnell said the program was initially started because it became apparent sexual assault victims needed special attention within the hospital setting.
“They’ve been cut, they’ve been beat-up, and they’re sitting in a waiting room with people staring at them,” she said. “They already don’t want to be there. We take them out of that situation.”
Victims are taken directly to a private waiting room within the hospital. When the on-call SANE nurse arrives, a medical and forensic interview is conducted and a head-to-toe injury assessment is taken. Nurses collect trace evidence and take photos if necessary. STD and pregnancy prevention are also provided.
McConnell said the program provides a standard of care above and beyond the normal emergency room.
“I think the fact that we’re one-on-one and we can give them 100 percent attention, it really puts them at ease,” McConnell said.
Colorado is a mandatory report state, meaning the hospital must report all cases of sexual assault to the police. Once the victim comes in, law enforcement and the Advocates for Victims of Assault – who support victims of abuse – are called. McConnell said the three groups work closely together to provide appropriate care for the victim after an assault takes place.
“It’s a whole circle of care,” she said. “We’re taking them out of a horrible situation and helping them start the healing process.”
Everything is completely free for victims. Law enforcement pays for the exam and evidence collection. The Colorado Department of Public Health pays for sexual assault kits. SANE also provides victims with compensation that helps pay for pregnancy prevention and loss of work.
Since the center’s opening last summer through the end of last year, McConnell said they saw seven victims. She attributes the low number to the fact that no one really knew they existed.
Amy Jackson, executive director at Advocates for Victims of Assault, said her program sees 25-45 sexual assault victims in a year’s time. McConnell said one in four Colorado women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and only 32 of every 100 assault cases are reported.
Jackson said the hope is that a victim-friendly program will encourage more people to report and feel comfortable with prosecution. McConnell said statistically, having a SANE nurse perform the exam leads to a higher prosecution rate because of their specialized training in dealing with victims.
“We love the fact that victims are treated so well,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we’ll see an increase in the number of sex assault cases where the presence of the SANE program is aiding in prosecution.”
McConnell said the response from victims using the SANE program has been very positive.
“I haven’t had a victim leave that hasn’t hugged me,” she said.
The SANE program is fully funded through grants and donations. A SANE walk will be held on April 3 to help raise money. For more information about the SANE program, call (970) 668-6901, or e-mail email@example.com.
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