Avera Medical Minute: Specialized care for victims of sexual assault

FLANDREAU, S.D. (KSFY) - A specialized service for victims of Sexual assault is making its way to hospitals in smaller communities.

A group of health professionals discusses how to care for victims of sexual assault.

For years, when a sexual assault victim in a smaller community needed care, they were first treated locally, then referred to a larger city for the collection of evidence using a rape kit. Hospital staff in Dell Rapids and Flandreau understand that a rape victim would most likely feel more comfortable at their home hospital and avoid driving to a larger city hospital after enduring such a horrific event.

That's why the partnership is forming between caregivers in these smaller communities with Avera special trained nurses in Sioux Falls, building a bridge of elevated care using telemedicine.

Jennifer Canton is an ER Nurse and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in Sioux Falls. She describes eSANE. "SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The E in front of it is just an add-on from our telehealth service," said Canton. "The eSANE nurse is going to help the bedside nurse provide this exam, so the bedside nurse is still there, we don't replace the bedside nurse."

Training is underway with staff in Dell Rapids and Flandreau to ensure evidence will be collected and documented properly. The assault victim will also be cared for in other ways.

"It's something that our communities need. People when they experience sexual assault or sexual violence, are going through a horrible experience and a rough time and they need someone to come in and take care of them medically, but also mentally and emotionally, and support them," said Canton.

The launch of eSANE nurses being available in a victim's hometown hospital raises the level of care for rape victims, according to Dr. Scott Hargens, Avera Flandreau Hospital Administrator. "By partnering up with the eSANE team in Sioux Falls they'd done a wonderful job again really narrowing down all the different advocacy groups in this local community, and with that, we're also able to take advantage of some of the Sioux Falls advocacy groups, like the compass center, said Hargens."

The goal is bringing compassionate care to victims of sexual assault, close to home.

"We hate to see these situations come through the doors, but when they do, we just want to be prepared, and this new program really sets us up in the future to really help patients out," said Hargens.

The victim still chooses if they want to report the assault. Evidence can become part of an immediate rape report to police. The evidence can also be stored anonymously should the victim choose to make a report at a later date.