SOMC Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program receives grant

Southern Ohio Medical Center was recently chosen as one of the hospitals to receive the VOCA Grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Through this grant, SOMC received Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training from Mount Carmel Health System’s staff. The grant, funded the program for SOMC which would typically cost nearly $6,000.

SANE Training is a specialty program where a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner can complete a forensic exam on a person who visits the emergency department who has been sexually assaulted. The program takes place on a 60-foot education simulation bus that travels to select hospitals throughout the state of Ohio. Laura Kaiser, Mount Carmel Health System Forensic Clinical Educator said the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are trained to complete a very detailed head-to-toe assessment with patients based on the history given to them and injuries they find. They are then able to collect this information and relay it to law enforcement. By doing this, the evidence will be able to be processed in a crime lab.

Kaiser said the purpose of this grant is to provide training to hospitals who often “serve the underserved populations.”

“This is going to be a wonderful opportunity for that underserved population to receive specialized care and support,” Kaiser said, “continued support well even beyond the exam.”

The process completed by the SANE and law enforcement will help the patients “so they don’t have to tell the story over and over and over again to different people, re-traumatizing that patient,” Kaiser said. With the SANE being specialty trained, they will be able to gather all the information needed for medical and treatment; but at the same time, this specialty training will also be beneficial in the courtroom setting, she said. Once the case is moved forward, the forensic nurse can go and testify in the courtroom. Kaiser said studies have shown that if an exam is completed by a SANE, the patients they serve are more likely to follow through with the court process.

“Having a specialized team within your facility is going to help your patients and benefit them not only in the hospital, but beyond the hospital,” Kaiser said, “and hopefully make our streets a little bit safer.”

SOMC nurses were trained by the SANE staff for a total of four days to be more prepared to treat patients who have been sexually assaulted. The staff being trained all agreed that although the training only lasted four days, the training will impact the rest of their careers.

Emilee Metzler, nurse in the emergency department, said the class has helped her with the exam by putting the process in a smoother and easier order for her when serving her patients.

The four-day training on the simulation bus consisted of training opportunities with a mannequin, which eventually shifted to real actors. The instructors would provide guidance the first couple of days, but eventually they would stand behind a window and would assist when the nurses had questions, Kaiser said. She said this method served to try and encourage the nurses to have the opportunity to be independent towards the end of the training to ensure “they feel comfortable with what they are doing.”

Amber Bodmer, registered nurse of emergency department, said having the actors and actresses come in for their training helped her immensely. She said this training would help them practice providing even better care to their patients who probably won’t tell them how they are doing, or what they could do better. Trista Throckmorton, also a registered nurse in the emergency department echoed the same sentiment. She said the Mount Carmel staff were “excellent resources” who taught them techniques to provide better care to their patients.

SOMC Emergency Services Clinical Coordinator Angie Hodge praised the team and the training for this “wonderful opportunity brought to SOMC to provide science-based, patient-centered care to our community.”

The VOCA Grant focuses specifically on bringing SANE Training to communities in need, Kaiser said. She explained how this training allows four nurses to be trained in four days. Whereas, 15 years ago when she was being trained, it took her nearly a year and a half. This program decreases time and expenses, allowing the nurses to start serving patients much quicker, she said.

Hodge said she hopes this training will reach far beyond the ED setting and well into the community. The SOMC team said they feel strengthened through this training to be able to provide better care to their patients and the community.