Chief Mooney Wants Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner; Centra Believes Southside Community Hospital's Sexual Assault Program Provides The Needed Care

Published 4:07 pm Thursday, October 2, 2014

FARMVILLE — Police Chief Doug Mooney wants Centra Southside Community Hospital to reinstate the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program that has been absent for several years.

But Centra officials say there are not enough local sexual assault cases to allow a Farmville-based SANE nurse.

SANE nurses are RNs who have added the specialty of forensic training in treating sexual assault victims and have been providing care across the nation since the 1970s.

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Since the SANE Program ended in Farmville, Chief Mooney said, his department has had to drive the victims of sexual assault to Centra’s Lynchburg hospital.

“Usually it’s a female victim,” Chief Mooney told The Herald on Wednesday afternoon, “but we have to carry the person to Lynchburg and if it’s a female we usually put two people, just for safety, or a female officer to take them up to the hospital…

“They’re traumatized enough,” he said of the victim. “We hate to have to do that.”

Centra, however, strongly believes Centra Southside Community Hospital’s sexual assault program continues to provide the care needed by victims of sexual assault.

“We have a responsibility to handle the needs of this community. Whether we have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or not, we are equipped to care for sexually assaulted patients,” Centra spokesperson, Diane L. Riley told The Herald Thursday at press time.

According Centra, there were not enough cases of sexual assault in Farmville for a SANE nurse to maintain the necessary competencies and that is why that program is no longer based at Southside.

“Programs like this require enough cases for a nurse to maintain their competencies. The few cases we’ve had, we handled their care and had the resources of our regional healthcare system in Lynchburg to assist in the investigations,” Riley said.

“The regional system is overseen by a forensic physician that specializes in cases like this. This is something that is on our radar,” Riley said. “We have plans to invite law enforcement officers to a regional meeting scheduled for this fall to share the details of our system-wide plan.”

The University of Virginia School of Medicine website said the SANE program was developed “to provide quality care and evidence collection to victims and families of sexual assault and abuse…

“The purpose of the sexual assault examination,” UVA website states, “is to:

* Deliver immediate crisis intervention to the victims and their families.

* Complete a thorough, objective medical-legal exam to include both a physical and sexual assault evaluation.

* Maintain chain of custody and preserve evidence for law enforcement and judicial systems.

* Provide appropriate referrals.

* Testify as an expert witness.

* Educate the community and professional colleagues regarding issues of assault and abuse.”

SANE nurses have been credited with a much greater likelihood of prosecution in cases of sexual assault.

Prior to the launch of the SANE Program more than 40 years ago, rape victims were examined by whoever was available in an emergency room. Not only were those medical personnel not trained in the sensitivity needed by a victim of sexual assault but they lacked any expertise in evidence collection, documentation, and preservation.

The UVA School of Medicine website reports that it is estimated one in four to one in six women is raped during her lifetime, and even more, if intimate partner rape is included.

“Whatever they can do to help us,” Chief Mooney said of Centra on Wednesday, “I would be most appreciative.”