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Ascension Hospital launches SANE program in the Northwoods

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WOODRUFF, Wis. (WAOW) — As a part of Ascension through the Howard Young Medical Center, a Sexual Assault Nursing Examiners (SANE) program has been launched.

SANE specializes in forensic care that is provided to sexual assault or sexual abuse victims. SANE nurses undergo advanced trainings and education to fulfill these roles.

The program allows the nurse examiners to collect forensic evaluations and treatments, as well as offering emotional support to victims.

In addition to that, one of the most important roles is collecting and maintaining evidence to prove a sexual assault happened. This evidence can later be used in prosecution.

Victims are usually referred to SANE through police following an initial report of sexual abuse to them.

Program availability in the Northwoods is now providing much needed additional support and resources to rural communities that otherwise would have to travel far for services.

"Sexual assault happens everywhere, and this service is greatly needed in our community," said Sarah Martin, Director of Nursing with Howard Young Medical Center. "Historically, victims from the Northwoods have been forced to go to Weston, or basically the Wausau area for testing."

Martin said having to travel great distances can impact timely data collection as well become an opportunity for additional trauma to a victim.

Martin also said the sooner evidence can be collected, the better chance for prosecution down the line.

From 2017 to 2019, there were 568 Oneida County residents that received sexual assault services. Martin said she hopes having newly available resources close to home will increase the number of people who come forward and report sexual violence.

"Having this resource available to the community; Minocqua, Rhinelander, Eagle River, Tomahawk and not putting our victims through anymore trauma or hardship is essential," Martin said.

Martin said another reason for less than 40% of sexual assault victims reporting crimes to police is not wanting to relive trauma especially in the form of a forensic test.

You do not have to be a victim that reported their crime to police to utilize the SANE program, but Martin encourages victims to report sexual violence and have forensic tests done for potential prosecutions.

For more information click here.

Rashad Williams

News 9 Reporter

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