MultiCare Deaconess Hospital ER care for sexual assault victims


SPOKANE, Wash. -Imagine going to a hospital for a critical exam for a sex crime, only to find out the provider didn't know how to perform it. It takes specialized education to treat a rape victim but many nurses don’t receive that kind of training until now.

MultiCare Deaconess Hospital in Spokane currently has two ER nurses with SANE training.  SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. They've been through intense training that can help a sex assault victim through one of their toughest times.

"When I was new to the emergency department, I had a really horrible case come in and she had been gang raped by many men and she left me a significant impression on how we care for victims here," said Kelley Murphy, an ER nurse with SANE training at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital.

"I just felt really passionate about being able to advocate for people," said Josilyn Twardoski, an ER nurse with SANE training at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital.

Both nurses have emotionally driven reasons why they have become sexual assault nurse examiners.  Murphy and Twardoski are specially trained to collect medical evidence for a sexual assault kit when someone walks through the doors asking for one when they've been sexually assaulted. “I think we provide a variety of care which isn't always the rape kit," said Twardoski.

As a nurse with SANE training, their training goes far beyond a rape kit. They are trained to help minimize any further trauma for victims and have knowledge about testifying in court.  "They teach us how to document appropriately so that in court, it's not called to question as much, as just an average nurse flying by the seed of your pants charting it and then how to also respond to questions in court," said Twardoski.

Both nurses say victims get one-on-one care. “If they need counseling, we get them going there," said Murphy.  They'll provide follow-up care and one nurse is designated to them the entire time.

“I think with every victim I take care of, I go there with them on that emotional rollercoaster and try to hold their hand throughout it and try to support them," said Murphy.

Both nurses want victims to know that they are not alone and that they can come to get help. "There's no judgement. We just want to help you through the process and we try to make it as painless as possible and provide you with your needs," said Murphy.  

The ER nurses at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital are all trained on how to do rape kits. Five of them are currently training to become fully qualified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.

They are not the only hospital in Spokane with nurses that have SANE training.  Hospitals like Sacred Heart also have nurses with SANE training.

There's still a lot of work to be done. A 2016 study in Washington found that as many as 12 of Washington’s counties had no SANE qualified nurses at all.  

April is sexual assault awareness month. 

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