Bryan Health expands program to help victims of sexual assault

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Thursday, Bryan Health announced it recently expanded its SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program to serve more patients affected by sexual assault.

Bryan Health expands its SANE Program to support victims of sexual assault. Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister is pictured with Lisa Vail, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Bryan Health, Marla Sohl the sexual assault services coordinator at Voices of Hope and Brie Auxier the SANE coordinator at Bryan Health. (Source: Bryan Health)

A sexual assault nurse examiner is a registered nurse who has completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of a patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

These nurses provide a sexual assault examination and collaborate with other organizations in the community to provide resources to sexual assault victims, including the Lincoln Police Department and Voices of Hope.

Lisa Vail is the vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Bryan Health. She said, "If a woman realizes there are specialty trained who know how to care for an individual who's been through this type of event, they are much more likely to come to the hospital and seek that care, as well as get connected to important follow-up care."

Bryan Health now has a team of more than thirty registered nurses who serve as sexual assault nurse examiners. Staff from multiple departments at Bryan participated in adult and pediatric education and certification. Nurses spent nearly 100 hours receiving specialized training, including detecting injuries, treating injuries, collecting evidence and photo documentation for law enforcement and testifying in court.

"We know that the first response to somebody's disclosure of sexual assault will either determine whether or not they're going to go forward and seek help and healing or if they're going to struggle with this silently. So it's really beneficial to our community and it speaks volumes to how our community supports sexual assault survivors," said Marla Sohl the sexual assault services coordinator at Voices of Hope.

Bryan Health said in a typical month nurses perform about 12-15 sexual assault nurse examinations on individuals. However, since implementing the program on June 1st, numbers are up. In June, Bryan Health did 29 examinations and in July there were 21. A spokesperson said the increase comes before their busiest months, August and September when school starts up. The statistics a spokesperson said reinforces Bryan Health's "commitment to provide this enhanced service to the people of Lincoln and hope that more victims will feel safe and comfortable coming forward."

A sexual assault nurse examiner is on-call, 24 hours a day, to respond to the needs of patients. Victims can be seen at both of Bryan's emergency department locations in Lincoln. Bryan West Campus features a private SANE room to provide a secure and anonymous area for care.