Wesley Medical Center has started a new SANE /SART program to help sexual assault victims. The program utilizes SANE – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners – who are registered nurses specifically trained to provide a thorough assessment of patients, help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, collect forensic evidence, photo-document and diagram all injuries and connect patients to resources they may need once they leave the hospital.
Sexual violence is a significant problem in the United States. According to the Rape Incest and Abuse National Network (RAINN), there are approximately over 200,000 victims of rape and sexual assault each year. The person responsible for the violence is typically male and is usually someone known to the victim. Over half of all assaults are not reported to law enforcement.
If a victim is 18 years or older and a lethal weapon was not used during the assault, that patient does not have to report to law enforcement. Patients can be seen at Wesley’s SANE /SART program where an anonymous case number is obtained from the KBI and a full evidence kit is collected. No patient information is disclosed. The kit is sent to the KBI under the anonymous case number and is stored by them for up to 5 years. If the victim chooses to make a report in those 5 years, law enforcement from the jurisdiction in which the assault occurred can access the kit through the KBI.
“This process allows us to collect the evidence within the 96 hours, and gives the victim more time to decide what is best for their situation,” stated Karen Wilson-Diehl, Wesley SANE/SART Assistant Nurse Manager. “Sexual assault victims suffer both physically and psychologically after an attack and time to process what has just happened to them is often needed. We encourage victims to report to law enforcement and will assist them in the process if needed.”
Wesley will have 13 nurse examiners who will work closely with the other members of the area Sexual Assault Team (SART), including social workers and personnel from law enforcement and advocacy agencies and the district attorney’s offices from many jurisdictions.
SANE nurses are called in when a patient presents to the hospital, and they are also available for inpatient exams anywhere at Wesley. An advocate from the Wichita Area Sexual Assault is also called to assist the patient.
Wesley expects the service will care for about 175 patients during the first year.