Liberty Resources’ SANE Program Provides Critical Sexual Assault Survivor Services at Oneida Healthcare

Specialized care for sexual abuse patients available 24/7, 365 days

https://www.oneidadispatch.com/news/local-news/specialized-care-for-sexual-abuse-patients-available/article_97a26e54-b864-11e9-8763-4ff49a416947.html

Reprinted from the Oneida Daily Dispatch – By Charles Pritchard, August 6, 2019

Oneida, N.Y. — Oneida Healthcare has joined Liberty Resources, Community Memorial Hospital and Colgate University to expand care for survivors of sexual abuse in Madison County.

“With this wonderful, new partnership with Oneida Health, we now have this incredible ability to provide coordinated exam services to survivors of sexual assault right here in our own community,” said Sara Haag, divisional director at Liberty Resources. “This will allow us to connect survivors with not only short term services but the long term services they need to heal, survive and thrive.”

In 2017, Liberty Resources and the Help Restore Hope Center partnered with Colgate University and launched their first pilot program for the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program at Community Memorial Hospital in Hamilton to test the waters, Haag said, and see if Liberty Resources could provide it on a greater scale. Haag said law enforcement agencies in Madison County have the ability to bring victims of abuse to one of the two hospitals, providing help to the victim while collecting evidence needed to help the investigation.

To further increase access to these services, Oneida Healthcare and Liberty Resources have developed a partnership to ensure that survivors of sexual assault can receive this exam at Oneida Healthcare’s emergency room 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

About one in five women and one in 71 men in the United States will become victims of sexual assault in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Of those survivors, 81 percent of women and 35 percent of men report significant short or long-term impacts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Haag said in the year-and-a-half the program has been active, the SANE program has seen to the care of around 20 people.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are registered nurses who have completed intensive and specialized education, along with clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of a patient who has experienced abuse. SANE services include emergency contraception, trauma response, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, forensic medical care and referral to further support services vital for evidence collection to identify and hold offenders accountable. Most notably, however, is the focus on the survivor’s care.

Haag said the model created for this program is survivor-focused and one-of-a-kind in New York State that offers a path of healing post-assault while continuing to wrap around longer-term advocacy and therapy services, all at no cost to the survivor.

“We’re so thankful and excited for the support that made it possible for us to be here today,” said Carrie Doran, chief operating officer at Liberty Resources. “As Liberty Resources celebrates its 40 years in Madison County, we’ve been able to reflect on all the great services here and are proud to be a part of it. We’re honored to serve our community.”

Bernadette Casscles, Community Memorial nurse manager, said she and Community Memorial Hospital greatly support the addition of Oneida Healthcare to the SANE program in Madison County. “It’s a great service for our community and county. We look forward to this partnership.”

Colgate Director of Student Health Services Dr. Merrill Miller said it’s time to celebrate a wonderful success story.

“This is the collaboration of people and institutions here in Central New York, who have come together to create a SANE program for Madison County,” Miller said. “We believe we are the first such program in a rural community, not only in New York but throughout the country.”

Miller said men and women who have been sexually assaulted need a thorough examination, but not just medical. “It’s a life-changing experience,” she said. “They need to have thorough, competent and caring provisions. There are SANE nurses but there aren’t many and are congregated in large communities. For some people that need that specialized care, traveling an hour to Syracuse is asking a lot after this intense episode.”

It’s not an easy or quick process to have a SANE program, officials said. “It takes a significant amount of training and it takes finding the right people,” Miller said. “It took the right time, the right people and the right institutions to join together.”

Miller said the SANE program was not something easy, quick or cost-neutral — but it was something people recognized was the right thing to do.

“This program means a scared, traumatized, assaulted individual is going to get wonderful care that’s personalized,” Chief of Nursing Jacqueline Dawe said. “To me, what could mean more to them at that time in their life when they’re going through what probably is the most traumatic events they’ll go through.”

“This is the most important and rewarding work I’ve been given the privilege to do,” Jodi Brandis, SANE Coordinator for Liberty Resources and the Help Restore Hope Center said. “Sexual assault remains one of the most under-reported crime in the United States. This is in part due to not knowing where to go for help and fear. Fear of continued abuse from their perpetrator, fear of not being believed, fear of being judged and fear of the legal system.”

Brandis urged anyone or anyone who knows anyone who is the victim of violence to reach out. She expressed gratitude to all the support for everyone involved and making this program reach further.

“It takes more than a community to protect ourselves and learn what we can do to be better neighbors, better coworkers and provide a better community, and world, for everybody,” Brandis said.

To learn more about the SANE program, visit www.helprestorehope.org/services/madison-county or call the 24-hour hotline at 1-855-966-9723.

Those interested in becoming a SANE nurse can email Brandis at jbrandis@libtery-resources.org.