Providence Medical Center offers education and support through Sexual Assault Response Team
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Providence Medical Center would like to encourage our community to increase their knowledge and awareness of sexual assault and the services available within our community.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted or abused. It is estimated that 60,000 children a year experience sexual abuse.
Approximately 30 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities. About 20 million out of 112 million women (18 percent) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime. In a 2012 maltreatment report, of the victims who were sexually abused, 26 percent were in the age group of 12-14 years of age and 34 percent were younger than nine years of age.
Teens age 16-19 years were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. Approximately one in seven (13 percent) of youth internet users have received unwanted sexual solicitations.
The Providence Medical Center Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is made up of staff who are dedicated to getting victims of sexual assault the care they need and providing education on how to ensure one’s safety. The SART team was established at PMC in 2001, and is made up of registered nurses and social service staff members.
“Currently PMC has three Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). This means that they have extra education and training in this sensitive matter, allowing patients to receive optimal care,” said Carrie Fertig, RN. “Additional team members include Jill Belt, Kiley Wohlers and Leslie Schulz from the Social Services Department, along with Dr. Mark McCorkindale who serves as the program Clinical Director.”
The SANE nurses assist providers as needed during examinations and with the collection of evidence. The Social Services Department staff provides support and resources throughout the examination.
“PMC works closely with The Child Advocacy Center in Norfolk to ensure appropriate care is provided for young children,” Fertig said. “Examining a child is very different than that of an adult,” Jill Belt, LMPH explained. “Should a child sustain medical injuries, they would be treated for these injuries at PMC, however, any further examination and interviewing would be conducted through a Child Advocacy Center.”
Fertig explains how a team is activated after a patient who has been assaulted enters the emergency room.
“The emergency room nurse assesses the patient and tends to any medical injuries or needs first, followed by notifying the SART team of an assault case. One of the SANE nurses and a representative from the social service department respond to PMC for the patient’s care. At this point, with the consent of the patient, the sexual assault evidence collection is initiated by the SANE nurse. After the examination is complete, all evidence collected is turned over to law enforcement.”
In addition to the care and treatment a patient receives, a safety plan is established with a patient prior to dismissal from the ER to ensure they have a safe place to go to.
A patient’s care does not end after the emergency room visit. Follow up arrangements are made for the patient with their primary physician and counseling services. PMC staff is very passionate about making sure that both physical and emotional needs of patients are met.
“We want all victims of sexual assault to feel comfortable coming to PMC. Our job is to medically care for them and make sure that every patient has the resources they need. We are here to give them support and a safe place to start,” Fertig said.
“If I could tell my child one thing, it would be to look at sexual assault as a health issue. It should not be something that one is ashamed of or afraid to seek help for,” said Belt.
If you would like more information or someone to speak to your organization about sexual assault, please contact Providence Medical Center at 402-375-3800 and ask to speak to the Social Services Department.