JRMC has robust unit of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

The hospital has eight SANE nurses available 24/7

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — For those who’ve gotten sexually violated, the hours that follow can be some of the most painful of their lives.

A team of nurses at Jamestown Regional Medical Center is working to make those moments less traumatic.

“After an assault or rape, the first step towards a conviction, you know, before any evidence, testing, charges, before a trial, is a sexual assault forensic exam,” explains JRMC foundation director Lisa Jackson.

Commonly known as rape kits, sexual assault forensic exams require specialized nurses to complete.

JRMC has eight of these Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or SANE, available 24/7.

According to Jackson, victims can be cared for by SANE nurses free of charge before or after going to the police, if they decide to do so.

“That’s why we’re very lucky,” she says. “You know, there’s a national shortage of SANE nurses because of the specialty of the care, but [victims] can come right to our emergency room.”

Not all hospitals or even states are fortunate enough to have enough SANE nurses.

In Jamestown, they are part of a larger unit called the Sexual Assault Response Team, which includes the state’s attorney, SAFE Shelter and law enforcement.

“It’s incredibly beneficial for us to have a resource like that in town, and to be able to work with them, because that definitely helps us out with the evidence collection,” says Jamestown Police Det. Sgt. Brandon Dockter. “Once I became a detective and started working these cases, it kind of opened up my eyes that these are cases that do happen in our area.”

It’s an area that’s home to more vulnerable community members, like the elderly, prisoners and university students.

SANE nurses’ roles in caring for victims during a difficult time can extend beyond the hospital walls.

“If this were a case that was to go to trial, SANE nurses are actually trained to speak on behalf of the victim if the victim is not able to do so, not comfortable in doing so,” adds Jackson. “They’re also trained on how to be there emotionally and connect them to different services that are in the area for follow-up care.”

Those that are part of the Response Team say they hope survivors know an assault is not their fault and that help is out there if needed.

Survivors are never required to file a report if they choose to see a SANE nurse and can complete an assault kit anonymously.

Donations for the SANE program, including monetary and items like blankets, are always welcome.

Categories: Health, Local News, North Dakota News