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Improved Care for Sexual Assault Victims

MeritCare and the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services/Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota (NDCAWS/CASAND) are sponsoring the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training program this week at the Fargodome.

MeritCare and the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services/Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota (NDCAWS/CASAND) are sponsoring the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training program with the goal of treating sexual assault victims with more immediate, compassionate, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive forensic evaluation and treatment. In its ninth year, the program is currently training 34 nurses across the region, including twelve from MeritCare.

The five-day training course is happening this week at the Fargodome,1800 N. University Dr., Fargo. If you are interested in interviewing an instructor, speaker or participant, please call MeritCare Media Relations at (701) 234-2000, ask for pager 1715.

"We are very passionate to provide the MeritCare Emergency Center nurses with the education, training, and support to care for and collect the forensic evidence of those that have been traumatized with sexual assault. As a team within the community our goal is to prosecute the perpetrator," said Jane Taber, director of nursing services, MeritCare.

Across the state of North Dakota, 830 victims of sexual assault sought out services at rape crisis centers in 2009. Statistics reveal, 1 in every 4 women will be sexually assaulted within their life time and 1 in every 6 males will be sexually assaulted within their life time. As a community, it is our obligation to increase sexual assault awareness and sexual assault prevention.

"We anticipate the number of people reporting sexual assault will continue to rise because of the implementation of the Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Exam Reimbursement Program established in 2007 by the ND Attorney General Office," explains Carly Mahoney, training coordinator, NDCAWS/CASAND. "This program enables hospitals to be reimbursed for providing sexual assault exams and is an improvement because victims no longer have to pay for evidence collection; before if a victim could not afford an exam the sexual assault often went unreported and critical evidence went uncollected," states Ms. Mahoney.

For victims, the SANE program means:
  • They will work mainly with one nurse who has had specific, targeting training to meet there needs, versus a number of staff members.
  • They will not have to wait as long as they have in the past to be seen in the MeritCare Emergency Center (EC). (In the past, sexual assault victims often had to wait to be seen because their situation was seen as less serious than other critically ill/injured patients.)
  • The SANE nurse, in conjunction with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, will be able to address all of the patient's needs—from emotional needs to examinations and to the collection of evidence.
  • MeritCare, in conjunction with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, will coordinate follow-up care and counseling needs.
  • SANE nurses are better equipped to serve as expert witnesses in court.