Catholic Health and Crisis Services Join Together to Create Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program

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April 30, 2014

Catholic Health and Crisis Services announced a new partnership today to support victims of sexual assault in our community. Through this partnership, Crisis Services will provide all Catholic Health hospitals with 24/7 availability of specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).

This enhanced service will be available at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, the Mercy Ambulatory Care Center, and Sisters of Charity Hospital and its St. Joseph Campus.

“Unfortunately, sexual assault is not something that happens somewhere else. According to the 2012 data from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, there were 211 forcible rapes reported to the police in Erie County.  We know that this is only the tip of the iceberg – fewer than 10% of victims report their assault,” said Robyn Wiktorski-Reynolds, advocate program coordinator from Crisis Services. 

Here are some sobering statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center about sexual assault on the national level:

  • One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime
  • 63 % of assaults are not reported to police
  • 81 % of women report significant short or long term impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder

Catholic Health is hoping to make an impact on these statistics through its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program.

“Having these nurses available around-the-clock is a valuable asset for victims of sexual assault who seek care in our Emergency Departments, as well as the ER staff who care for them,” said Aimee Gomlak, vice president of WomenCare at Catholic Health. “With the support of Crisis Services, we can ensure these patients receive the attention they deserve to care for their physical and emotional needs, as well as manage the collection of forensic evidence and police reporting.”

SANE programs improve patient care and increase reporting and conviction rates for sexual abuse crimes. Sexual assault nurse examiners are specially trained to provide comprehensive care to sexual assault survivors. They are trained to obtain a medical and forensic history; perform a physical assessment; identify, collect, preserve and document forensic evidence; provide information for referrals; and provide fact and expert witness testimony.

Crisis Services’ Advocate Program is the only New York State Department of Health Designated Rape Crisis Center for Erie County, and assists survivors of past and recent incidents of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or incest. It also operates the NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence hotline, and provides training and continuing education to SANE nurses throughout Erie County.

For more information, call (716) 834-3131.