The Hardin Memorial Health Foundation (HMHF) received a $125,000 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant from the state to expand the support and services HMH offers sexual assault victims. The grant will fund training for six additional nurses to become certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), bringing HMH’s total to 14.
HMH Assistant Vice President for Emergency Services Deanna Parker said the training will allow HMH to provide trained nurses ready to help victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making HMH one of only eight SANE-ready hospitals in the state.
SANE certified nurses are qualified to complete very thorough sexual assault forensic exams. Last year alone, HMH treated more than 50 victims of sexual assault, and those numbers continue to increase.
“It is unfortunate that we need this type of care, but we are so glad that we can offer these specially trained nurses to victims here close to their homes,” said Parker. “Before HMH had a SANE program, victims had to travel to Louisville for a comprehensive exam.”
HMH Registered Nurse and SANE program manager Sarah Tovar said that travel often meant victims would forgo the exam and not even report the sexual assault to law enforcement. Research indicates more than 70 percent of sexual assaults are not reported.
“Effective, thorough and timely exams aid in the successful prosecution of perpetrators,” said Tovar.
Tovar added that the specially designed patient rooms in the HMH expanded emergency department also provide the privacy victims need and deserve.
The VOCA grant will allow HMH to expand community education and awareness as well as its work leading the 10-county region Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), one of only a few in the state. SART is comprised of law enforcement, prosecutors, medical/forensic and representatives from Silverleaf – a local advocacy agency that provides sexual trauma recovery services.
“Fostering collaboration and teamwork among these support agencies is critical in aiding victims of sexual assault,” said Parker. “HMH is proud to provide this leadership.”
HMHF Board Chairman Joe Prather said the foundation is pleased it can help expand SANE services.
“Achieving SANE-ready status is a game-changing step forward for the patients who need these services, and we couldn’t be happier to support such a worthy endeavor,” Prather said.
This is the second consecutive year HMHF has received a VOCA grant for a combined $235,000 investment in this critical service.