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Howard Young Medical Center Launches Specialized Program to Support Sexual Assault Victims

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Ascension Wisconsin
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Right now, there are six nurses at Howard Young Medical Center who have gone through extra training to help them treat sexual assault and abuse victims. 

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or SANE program trains nurses how to collect physical evidence so that it can be used in investigations. 
 
It also better prepares nurses to emotionally treat people that have experienced this kind of trauma. 
 
“We have some amazing nurses that provide emotional support as well as forensic support and a lot of community partnerships to give these victims the resources they need,” said Nursing Director Sarah Martin. “It’s a very traumatic experience and we are here to support them and not just in the medical but also the emotional support they need.”
 
Since finishing the training in November, the nurses have already assisted in several cases. 
 
One of the reasons it was important to Ascension to get these nurses trained was because of the lack of this kind of specialized care in the Northwoods. 
 
Before this, victims that needed someone with SANE training would often be referred to St. Clare’s hospital in Weston. 
 
“We needed to develop this team for our community to serve really anywhere north of the St. Clare’s/Weston area and not having our sexual assault victims who have already been traumatized need to then have that extra stress an hour south and needing to go through that whole process again once they’ve already presented to an emergency department and been asked a lot of the questions,” said Martin. 
 
While there are six nurses right now, Martin says there are other nurses willing to be trained if there’s a need for it.
 
“It’s hard to say what the expected volume will be, but through the establishment of a couple years of having a history in those patients we’ve transferred out of our community for the care, it was significant enough that we needed to develop this team for our community,” said Martin. 
 
The SANE nurses are trained to help adult victims of sexual and physical abuse. 
 
Martin encourages victims to reach out if they need help. Tri-County Council runs a 24/7 crisis hotline, you can call (800) 236-1222.