Sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) help hospitals provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care and advocacy to victims of sexual assault. SANEs are also trained to collect forensic evidence that can be used in a criminal trial, should the victim wish to pursue justice in the courts. Yet virtually every state in the country suffers from a shortage of SANEs.
Over the past decade, OVC has worked to expand access to SANE care for victims who live in rural, Tribal, and remote communities by investing in innovative and secure telehealth technology to connect local hospital clinicians with highly trained, experienced SANE nurses.
One comprehensive OVC-funded tele-SANE program, the SAFE-T Center, recently released a final report detailing its 5-year effort to train and grow the SANE workforce in Pennsylvania.
The report indicates that the SAFE-T Center created comprehensive SANE coverage in rural areas where it previously did not exist; increased nurse perception of quality of care; and improved local SANE retention rates.
The SAFE-T Center succeeded in creating the only fully live (real-time) telehealth-enabled forensic device in the field, one that is easy to use, offers superior photographic capabilities, and has state-of-the-art security.
Ultimately, this report suggests the important role telehealth will play in the future of sexual assault survivor care, particularly where there are regional disparities and inequities in access to quality care.