URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Carle Foundation Hospital saw nearly 130 patients for sexual assault exams in 2018. Evidence was collected for 100 of those.
The hospital is now trying to help survivors regain their strength by making sure the right person is caring for them.
If you ever need to go to the emergency room, one of the first people you see is a nurse.
As the Forensic Nurse Program Coordinator at Carle, Tegan Stynoski keeps track of the sexual assault nurse examiners, also known as SANE nurses.
“The hospital process is not intended to be step two of the trauma that’s happened to them,” Stynoski said. “It’s really step one of their recovery from that trauma.”
There are 15 SANE nurses at Carle hoping to make sexual assault survivors feel more comfortable.
“We do our very best to make sure that we are as sensitive as we can be to their trauma and that we are all letting them drive their care while they’re here,” she added.
Carle was just approved to become an official Sexual Assault Treatment Hospital.
That means there will be at least one SANE nurse staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“This is a game changer for sexual assault survivors,” Adelaide Aime, RACES Executive Director, said.
RACES focuses on helping sexual assault survivors through counseling and advocacy. Aime said this is going to help their recovery tremendously.
“This is gonna guarantee that when a survivor walks into the emergency department there will be a someone open to their needs,” she added.
Before this, any nurse could collect evidence, something Stynoski said is a multi-step process.
“You just opened the box and looked at the overwhelming lits of steps and read the instructions and kind of figured it out, and what ended up happening is that a lot of patients got evidence collection by nurses who were very well-meaning and working very hard, but were very inexperienced and maybe overwhelmed with the kit itself,” Stynoski explained.
And they hope that by making these changes, others will follow suit.
“Nationally, we in the business hear stories of victims who go to the E.D. and it feels like being raped all over again, and no one wants that, so it’s the training that helps the exam be supportive versus an additional assault,” Aime said.
To help survivors begin the recovery process.
OSF Sacred Heart in Danville plans to also be a treatment center for adults.
There are currently nine hospitals approved to be transfer facilities, which means they will send those survivors to the treatment hospitals: Iroquois Memorial, Gibson Area, Hoopeston, Warner Health, Decatur Memorial, Kirby, OSF Heart of Mary, OSF Sacred Heart, Paris Horizon Health and Advocate BroMenn.