RANDOLPH, Vt.- After a lengthy hiatus, Gifford is re-starting its Sexual Assault/Forensic Nursing Program, also known as SANE. The team is made up of eight forensic nurses. Three are certified in adult/adolescent SANE care and five are dual-certified in both adult and pediatric SANE care.
Forensic nurses specialize in caring for patients who experience health issues associated with violence. They typically see patients in an emergency room after the patient’s involvement in a violent crime, such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence or strangulation. Forensic nurses also work closely with an interdisciplinary team that includes law enforcement, advocates, and crime victim services.
“Our care is compassionate and confidential,” Gifford SANE team member, Kathleen Bryant said. “When necessary and desired, we collect forensic evidence and provide treatment and counseling for concerns about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”
A Forensic Medical Exam prioritizes compassionate medical care and careful evidence collection to address emergency needs following an assault. A trained forensic nurse will walk you through the steps of the exam. You can choose to do as much or as little of the exam as you wish.
“An assault is committed based on control and power. The goal of a forensic medical exam is to give control and power back to the survivor while providing important medical care and evidence collection,” Gifford Forensic Program Coordinator, Marie Abare said. “You do not have to report the assault to law enforcement to receive a forensic medical exam.”
If you have experienced a sexual assault, it is important to get medical care as soon as possible. This care can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If the assault happened less than 5 days ago, you may have forensic evidence collected. You shouldn’t shower, bathe or change clothes, but you can still be seen and receive care even if you do.
“Typically, an advocate will be called to help you through the process,” Bryant said. “The examination consists of an interview, a physical exam, a follow-up and treatment. Referrals and education can be offered as well.”
Children who may have been abused are also eligible to receive the services of a forensic nurse.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence, please visit the Gifford Emergency Department at 44 S. Main Street in Randolph or speak with your primary care provider. They will ensure you are connected with a SANE nurse for proper care and treatment.