SANE program for sexual assault victims expands to more rural N.S. areas
Tri County Women's Centre in Kentville, Bridgewater now offer SANE program, VON also training more nurses
Two more hospitals in Nova Scotia now have nurses trained to provide care for people who have been sexual assaulted and plans are in the works to make the service available provincewide.
On Wednesday, the province announced the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, known as SANE, is now available at the Tri County Women's Centres in the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater and the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.
"The main thing is when survivors of sexual assaults come forward to receive treatment, especially in the immediate aftermath, that they feel comfortable and confident," said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey.
Sexual assault nurse examiners are registered nurses who have advanced training and expertise to provide specialized medical and forensic response, the department said in a news release.
On-call nurses give emergency care, including supportive care, medical attention, information and additional resources and the option to have forensic evidence collected.
Shana Vidito, the co-ordinator of the SANE program for the Tri County Women's Centre, said the current demand for sexual assault nurse examiners isn't high.
"We suspect that with the press release and the word getting out more that this service is available for sexual assault survivors and victims that more people will come and receive the medical and psychological and social help we can provide for them," she said.
A contract was awarded to the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) to expand the program to Colchester and Cumberland counties, East Hants and the Eastern Shore.
VON will work with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to train nurses and, once in place, the program will be available through all regional hospitals with in-person coverage across the province.
Vidito said there is a wait list of nurses in her area — the Annapolis Valley and South Shore — who want the training. She said there are 22 nurses trained to provide the service in her area, which is known as the western zone.
"That's really positive that there are so many nurses who want to be a part of it and help out their communities," she said.
Delorey said once VON has completed its training, the SANE program would be available in all of the heath authority's medical zones.
He said if a patient wants the SANE services in an area that currently doesn't have it, the patient would have the opportunity to transfer to a facility that does.
Delorey said with the expansion of SANE, he hopes more people who have been sexually assaulted will feel more comfortable with coming forward to seek medical help and have evidence collected.
With files from Jean Laroche and Michael Gorman