MANHATTAN (KSNT) – For the past year, the Riley County Police Department said it has been taking victims of sexual assault to hospitals outside of the city.
RCPD Director Brad Schoen said it is because Via Christi Hospital does not have a SANE-SART certified examiner available at all times.
Any medical practitioner can perform the exam and it will be taken to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for testing but Schoen said the certification is important outside of the exam room as well.
“SANE-SART examines are important because you can have qualified people who can step before the court if a case would go to trial,” he said.
Joy Thomas, a SANE-SART certified nurse at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka, agrees.
“I know that the sanes are very often classified as expert witnesses,” she said.
Thomas and one other nurse staff the SANE-SART team at the Topeka hospital. She said on Friday, RCPD brought a victim in for examination because they could not find someone in Junction City.
“In terms of caring for the victim, our emphasis and our preference would be to have those exams done locally,” Schoen said. “I can tell you we’ve had some victims who’ve refused to travel to get an exam.”
SANE-SART is an acronym for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and Sexual Assault Response Team.
Administrators at Via Christi said after the SANE-SART director left, there was some confusion about who could perform the exams but the hospital has a plan to restore the program. But the training takes time in and out of the hospital.
“Right now what we’re doing is going back and training several nurses in the ER so we have someone available,” said Jennifer Goehring, the Chief Nursing Officer at Via Christi. “We are currently working to try to establish a new program here um, one that is more sustainable.”
According to Goehring, there will be SANE-SART nurses at the hospital in the next nine months.