SANE Spotlight: Remember the SANEs during National Nurses Week
By Marina Sampanes Peed
Executive Director of Mosaic Georgia
As National Nurses Week is upon us, we call attention to a small but mighty forensic nursing specialty: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). SANEs are specially trained registered nurses who provide compassionate care to survivors of sexual violence including assault, abuse, and sex trafficking.
The SANE practice is at the intersection of health care and criminal investigation. Their patients are both people and evidence. They collect evidence, document injuries, and provide treatment and support to survivors in a way that is trauma-informed and respectful. When cases proceed to court, SANEs are often called to testify in proceedings.
Kathy Carter, director of Forensic Medical Services, is often asked why she chose to practice as a nurse in such a difficult specialty. Kathy shares her Why: “While I cannot end sexualized violence, I can offer trauma informed care to patients after an assault or on-going abuse which promotes a feeling of safety, empowerment and healing. This level of care can make a HUGE difference in the trajectory of the patient’s journey.”
Victims of sex crimes are more likely to report the assaults and participate in investigations after receiving trauma-informed care from SANE and advocates. Like all people who seek medical care, the experience is more effective when the care providers lead with listening and believing.
Mosaic Georgia was the first Sexual Assault Center in Georgia to develop the community-based SANE/medical forensic program. In 1993 (then Gwinnett Rape Crisis), we treated our first patient/victim of rape in our center. Over the last 30 years, our SANEs have provided more than 6,000 medical forensic exams to people ranging in age from 3 months to 90 years. The medical care is enhanced with victim and family advocacy, mental health services, and other supports in one location.
To respond to calls 24/7, the community relies on committed SANEs who go on-call after hours and weekends and respond to our center when needed. These are special people. If you meet a SANE, let them know you appreciate their dedication.
Mosaic Georgia’s SANE Success Institute professional education, peer review, and an online community for SANE practitioners. It is a lively forum of support and connection for SANEs across Georgia and nearby states. For more information, https://www.mosaicgeorgia.org/education-training/