River Bridge Regional Center is happy to announce that Mountain West SANE Alliance has a permanent home under the River Bridge Regional Center umbrella. In 2012 the Roaring Fork Valley lost its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program, leaving our community vulnerable and victims of sexual assault with inadequate services. A small group of dedicated professionals came together to reinstate the needed services that victims in our community require, they formed the Mountain West SANE Alliance (MWSA). With dedication and tireless work, this group of individuals was able to reestablish services to our community and in 2016, MWSA conducted its first SANE Examination.
MWSA has continued to work tirelessly, however with limited funding, mounting volunteer hours, and borrowed space the longevity of the program was in question. To ensure that our community does not lose its adult SANE program again, River Bridge will provide the structure and leadership that is necessary for the permanency of the program.
River Bridge Executive Director Blythe Chapman is dedicated to creating a safer and stronger community. “Unfortunately when Valley View Hospital closed the SANE program in 2012, victims of assault in our community had to travel to Frisco or Grand Junction for this essential service. Due to the travel hardship, many patients decided against an exam. We fear that even more did not report assault because of the lack of services available. All victims of assault deserve the dignity, respect, and specialized medical care that a forensic nurse examiner can offer. We feel that it is unacceptable for our community to get by without a SANE program. This is why River Bridge has stepped up to provide the administration and oversight to a much needed service in our community. We have many nurses in our valley who are engaged, committed and enthusiastic about SANE. The program will experience strength and longevity with the right management.”
Under River Bridge Regional Center’s direction, Mountain West SANE Alliance is already growing. The program currently has four nurses on contract who are able to provide exams to the 9th Judicial District which includes, Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties. In addition, there are six nurses who are currently in training and will begin examinations in early and mid-2018.
Forensic Nurses who conduct SANE exams are specially trained in medical, psychological, and forensic examination of sexual assault victims. Ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive the highest standard of medical care and are treated with dignity and respect. Forensic nurses provide trauma-informed care. They identify physical and emotional trauma, document injuries, collect evidence, provide pregnancy and STD prevention medications, and make necessary referrals. Mountain West SANE Alliance enhances evidence collection for criminal proceedings and supports effective investigations and better prosecutions
Adult victims of sexual assault can make an anonymous report. A victim can choose to obtain a medical forensic exam and not to participate in the criminal justice system. Any evidence collected and information given to law enforcement is released without victim identifying information. When evidence is collected as part of the medical forensic exam for an anonymous reporting victim, they consent to evidence storage only, and do not have the option of evidence testing. Evidence and information is stored for at least two years by local law enforcement and a victim has the right at any time to file a law enforcement report, thereby converting from an anonymous report to a law enforcement report. Mountain West SANE Alliance is happy to take calls from individuals seeking information about our services and encourage advocates to inform adult victims of the opportunity to speak with a nurse directly if they are hesitant to contact law enforcement after an assault.
Mountain West SANE Alliance is available to answer calls 24/7. However, the nurse response for this community-based program is not “on call”. There will be times when nurses will not be available for examinations. Every effort will be made to arrange exams in a timely manner and locally if possible. As Mountain West SANE Alliance continues to grow under River Bridge Regional Center leadership the goal is to ensure that every victim of sexual assault receives the specialized medical care that a forensic nurse examiner can offer.
To request an exam, patients and/or law enforcement may call Garfield County Dispatch at 970-625-8095 and request a call back from the “on call nurse”. Currently, MWSA has an exam site at Rifle Public Health and we will have an additional site in Glenwood Springs opening in early 2018. All children and adolescents who are victims of sexual assault will continue to be seen for medical care at River Bridge Regional Center in Glenwood Springs.