SANE program for survivors of sexual assault

In recent months, a growing amount of national attention has been given to survivors of sexual assault. To further meet the needs of local individuals impacted by this type of violence, Mile Bluff’s Emergency Department has developed a sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) program.

The role of a SANE includes evaluating and treating patients with a holistic approach. These nurses are specially trained to provide culturally-sensitive, developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed, patient-specific evaluation and treatment. They gather medical history, as well as a history of the assault, with a proper understanding of the medical and legal consequences of both. It is a very specialized role that is unfortunately needed far too often.

“In the past, when patients came to us following a sexual assault, we would have to refer them to a SANE program at a facility an hour away,” said Sharon Warden, Director of Mile Bluff’s Emergency Department. “Knowing that we had to send patients an hour away during such a vulnerable time was difficult. With the SANE program starting in Mauston in 2019, we will be able to treat individuals in a much more timely, comforting and supportive manner.”

Sharon continued, “Having a SANE program means that we have forensic specialists on staff who are highly trained in specimen collection and protection of the chain of collection handling. The nurses are also trained to be prepared for testifying in court regarding the exam and condition of patients, if needed.”

One of Mile Bluff’s emergency nurses has already earned her SANE certification. She completed and passed the training that covered forensic nursing and sexual violence. In February, three additional nurses will begin their training.

“We do not know how the lack of a SANE program impacted the number of unreported and untreated sexual assaults in the county,” explained Sharon. “But we do know that our SANE program creates a safe, caring, local place for survivors of sexual assault to turn. We’re confident that having this program at Mile Bluff will make a difference in our community.”

Anyone who experiences a sexual assault can come immediately and directly to Mile Bluff’s Emergency Department. The staff is trained to be mindful of both the immediate and the long-term impacts of sexual violence. Individuals will be cared for with dignity, confidentiality and excellence. If you would like more information about the SANE program, please contact Sharon at 608-847-6161.