Local Hospitals Fighting Rapists - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/20/05

Local Hospitals Fighting Rapists

On average, a woman is raped in Lubbock County almost once a day. Now, Lubbock's two major hospitals are helping put rapists behind bars through the "Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner" program or "S.A.N.E.".

Emergency rooms in Lubbock County average 18 to 37 cases of rape per month. Covenant Medical Center and University Medical Center are both improving their standards of care with S.A.N.E. S.A.N.E. Nurse Honey Haney explains, "The whole program in Lubbock is called a S.A.R.T. Team... Sexual Assault Response Team. That includes the District Attorney's Office, the Sheriff's Office, Lubbock Police Department, Rape Crisis, Childrens Advocacy Center as well as sexual assault nurses."

Lubbock's nine S.A.N.E. nurses work full-time at Covenant or UMC, but through the Medical Examiner's Office, they are specially trained in gathering forensic evidence from a rape victim and someone is always on call. S.A.N.E. Nurse Chris Scott Johnson adds, "When we come in, we're not part of the staff. We just come in to get that forensic evidence."

The key to the S.A.N.E. program is time. Whereas a physician may only be able to devote minutes to a rape patient, S.A.N.E. nurses spend three hours collecting evidence. Dr. Fred Hagedorn, UMC's Emergency Center Medical Director, says, "Uninterrupted, undistracted, they're here for one reason and that's to take care of sexual assault victims." Covenant Emergency Medicine Physician, Dr. Rob Zube, says, "The S.A.N.E. nurses do the exam over and over again. They get very good at it. So evidence is never lost. You get the best opportunity to prosecute and that sort of thing." Hagedorn adds, "We've found the conviction rate when we use S.A.N.E. people is very very good."

At each hospital the nurses have a $30,000 helper. Nurse Haney explains, "We use our colposcope which is a very high powered camera and that allows us to take digital pictures we can use as far as evidence." Covenant Hospital has been using their colposcope and the S.A.N.E. program for a couple of weeks now. UMC's colposcope has arrived and the program will begin this Friday.

SANE exams are paid for by the law enforcement agency that requests them. The $30,000 colposcopes are hospital investments.

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