Monday, April 26, 2010

A Nurse's Journal: SANE Nursing

SANE nurses take on dual role of comforting for assault victim while collecting evidence for prosecution: A Nurse's Journal
from the Plain Dealer on April 17th, 2010

A Nurse's Journal
Michele Reali-Sorrell
Huron Hospital

A Nurse's Journal is a column written by nurses about their working experiences. Today's author is Michele Reali-Sorrell, a nurse in the emergency department at the Cleveland Clinic's Huron Hospital.

She was cowering under the front porch of an abandoned house when EMS arrived. A stranger cut her neck with a knife, strangled and raped her. He left her to die.

She was transported to Huron Hospital where highly skilled trauma physicians and nurses worked to repair the devastating injuries this woman had just endured. She survived her physical injuries. What about her psychological trauma? How will she survive that? She's the reason I became a SANE nurse.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs were created so that specially trained forensic nurses can provide 24-hour, first-response care to sexual assault patients in either hospital or non-hospital settings. SANE programs provide care in an empowering setting that addresses the survivor's emotional and medical needs as well as evidence collection needs for prosecution.
SANE nurses strive to preserve their patients" dignity and ensure that survivors are not re-traumatized by the evidence collection process.They help survivors gain control by allowing them to make decisions throughout that process.

The gathering of forensic evidence includes collecting the survivor's clothing, conducting a physical assessment and specimen collection. SANE nurses are also trained in identifying patterned injury, documenting injuries, maintaining chain-of-evidence, and providing expert witness testimony.

Most SANE programs offer emergency contraception for sexual assault patients who are at risk of becoming pregnant and antibiotics to treat sexually transmitted diseases that may have been contracted during the assault.

Huron Hospital started its SANE program in 2004. We have six highly skilled, dedicated and compassionate nurses that allow Huron to provide 24-hour coverage. We offer care to anyone sexually assaulted ages 13 and older. We have cared for approximately 400 sexually assaulted patients since we opened our program in 2004. Fairview, Hillcrest and Marymount hospitals -- all part of the Cleveland Clinic health system -- have SANE programs as well. We work closely with Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and the Domestic Violence Center to help get our patients resources and follow up care after they are discharged.

Being a SANE nurse can be emotionally and physically draining. Getting called in for a case in the middle of the night can leave you sleep deprived for the rest of your day. But what makes being a SANE nurse so rewarding is being able to help my patient feel safe. I'm able to give my patient 100 percent of my attention, find resources for her and help her start the process of recovery.

1 comment:

  1. Two thumbs up to these SANE nurses at work! Now who could say that the only primary health care workers are the doctors? People and even the medical world should commend the whole time effort of these nurses. Few people can do that.Only these nurses and other health care workers in scrub uniforms can. To be a nurse is a great privilege indeed and of course it is also a great responsibility.