PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson Healthcare has launched a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program.
The program, known as SANE, “will offer services to a very important and vulnerable patient population within our community and has been an unfulfilled need until now,” said Amy Yaley, director of marketing and communications at the hospital.
SANE will provide services to patients who are 13 and older. Current Jefferson County data says that four to 10 sexual assault exams are requested within this age group per year, Yaley said, and prior to the development of program, survivors seeking forensic services were required to travel at least one hour by car to another facility.
SANE Coordinator Katie-Rose Fischer-Price will present information about the new program at the next meeting of the Community Coordinated Response from noon to 1 p.m. July 26 in the basement of the Jefferson County Courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.
Work on the program launched Tuesday began more than a year ago, Yaley said a press release.
“I am so grateful for the level of commitment that Jefferson Healthcare has shown throughout this process,” Katie-Rose Fischer-Price, SANE program coordinator, is quoted as saying in the release.
“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.”
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners have specialized training in forensic, psycho-social and medical care of sexual assault patients.
“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,” Yaley said.
“They have been shown to provide enhanced physical and mental health care, deliver better evidence collection and support higher prosecution rates.”
Jefferson Healthcare officials plan to maintain quality through a preceptor program, case review and a close partnership with community stakeholders for feedback and continued improvement, according to Yaley.
To ensure that the work of the sexual assault nurses stands up in court, Jefferson Healthcare has developed practice policies and procedures in accordance with Washington state and national guidelines, she said.
“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,” Yaley said.
The hospital will continue to work with Dove House to support pediatric survivors of sexual assault through emergency room medical clearance and by facilitating transportation to another facility with experts in pediatric sexual assault exams, she added.
The first year of the program will be focused on training staff and gathering data. Three experienced SANE nurses have been hired as well as four nurses who are currently being trained.
It won’t be offered 24-7 at first, but instead will be offered as-available.
“In a rural areas, it is a challenge to balance forensic competency with adequate staffing due to the unpredictability and fluctuating numbers of cases,” Yaley said.
“Jefferson Healthcare hopes to mitigate this problem by implementing a graduated availability model,” and eventually transitioning to a 24/7 on-call model once enough staff have been trained, she added.
“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,” said Tina Toner, chief nursing officer.
“Without the team’s vision, heart and hard work, this would not be a reality,” stated Tina Toner, chief nursing officer.
Community Coordinated Response meetings are open quarterly meetings conducted by the Dove House — which provides services for survivors of sexual assault — the county prosecuting attorney’s office and the county sheriff’s office to discuss sex crimes in Jefferson County.
For more about Jefferson Healthcare. see the hospital’s website at jeffersonhealthcare.org.