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Lancaster Medical Center partners with Penn State College of Nursing to support sexual assault survivors

Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center is making a commitment to provide high-quality, compassionate care to sexual assault survivors with the launch of a new partnership.  Penn State Health’s newest acute care hospital announced today it is partnering with SAFE-T Systems, a grant-supported program within Penn State’s Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing.

Registered nurses in the Emergency Department who have completed Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training are vital partners in delivering top-tier sexual assault care as part of the comprehensive program delivered by SAFE-T Systems.

Aiming to serve rural and underserved communities, SAFE-T Systems pairs state of the art tele-forensic technology with live expert teleSANE mentorship to facilitate locally-based sexual assault forensic examination. SAFE-T teleSANEs are highly experienced sexual assault nurse examiners who have conducted numerous cases and are experts in mentoring others through telehealth while ensuring exams follow best-practice standards.

In addition to the live telehealth mentorship, Lancaster Medical Center’s newly formed sexual assault nurse team also receives comprehensive training, programmatic support and access to a large peer network through its partnership with SAFE-T Systems. SANEs provide the highest level of health care with a trauma-informed approach for victims seeking treatment after a sexual assault, and are on-call for the Lancaster Medical Center Emergency Department 24/7. They conduct forensic exams and provide emotional support and expert legal testimony.

“The SANEs at Lancaster Medical Center know the importance of ensuring these patients have a safe space to process their trauma and thoughtful care during these examinations,” said Valerie Ritter, director of nursing in the Emergency Department at Lancaster Medical Center. “This innovative partnership is an example of our commitment to better outcomes for our patients.”

At every step of the process, nurses work with individuals who have experienced sexual assault to explain their options, including reporting to law enforcement, medical examination and documentation of injuries, collection of evidence, infection and pregnancy prevention and referrals to community resources and follow-up care for a holistic approach. SAFE-T Systems’ nurse-designed, proprietary SAFE-T Scope technology uses secure video conferencing and a forensic medical device to navigate the highly sensitive exam, minimizing the likelihood of re-traumatization while simultaneously preserving the victim’s ability to seek justice with forensically defensible evidence. The approach combines this cutting-edge technology with the compassionate care of SANEs to aid survivors on their healing journey.

Launched with support from the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice, SAFE-T Systems is present in health systems across Pennsylvania. Sheridan Miyamoto, who serves as principal investigator and director, is also a member of the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing faculty and the Child Maltreatment Network. Miyamoto is a nurse scientist and researcher, a member of the American Academy of Nursing and a Betty Irene Moore Fellow.

Four other Penn State Health hospitals also partner with SAFE-T Systems. Penn State Health’s flagship Milton S. Hershey Medical Center launched a partnership with the SAFE-T Center in 2019 with funding from Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Hampden and Holy Spirit medical centers joined in spring 2022 and St. Joseph Medical Center joined in September.

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