Federal Grant to Expand Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Services in Middle Tennessee

Feb 05, 2024 at 01:21 pm by WGNS News

Murfreesboro, TN - In a significant development, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a federal department under the U.S. Department of Justice, announced expanded access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) services in Middle Tennessee, particularly targeting rural areas of the state. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, headquartered in Nashville, stands as one of the four hospitals nationwide awarded this grant, totaling nearly $500 thousand, to enhance SANE training and services.


The grant, spanning 2024 to 2026, will play a pivotal role in creating a formal SANE training program, aiming to train 90 SANE providers within and outside the Vanderbilt Health system. The Vanderbilt Health SANE Expansion Project has set ambitious goals to increase both the quantity and quality of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) in the region over a three-year period.

While Vanderbilt University Medical Center does not currently offer forensic exams for sexual assault and rape victims in Rutherford County, the grant is poised to benefit the community by facilitating specialized training for nurses working in the area.

In a recent conversation with WGNS, Kylie Avery, Senior Public Relations Specialist at Vanderbilt, clarified, “We don’t currently offer forensic exams for sexual assault and rape victims in Rutherford County.” However, this statement doesn't negate the potential for nurses in Rutherford County to receive the crucial SANE training.

Meanwhile, Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford in Murfreesboro assured WGNS of its capability to provide basic sexual assault forensic exams. Caitlin Yusko with Ascension said, "Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford is equipped to provide a basic sexual assault forensic exam and works closely with the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certified nurses at the sexual assault center in Murfreesboro to ensure the victim receives all proper care or additional medical exams."

In conducting a specialized exam, medical professionals use what is commonly referred to as a rape kit, which is an evidence collection kit used by a doctor or nurse conducting a forensic exam.


As part of the grant-funded initiative, the Vanderbilt program will expand into three rural clinics surrounding Rutherford County, including one specializing in LGBTQ+ health. Training and equipping providers at two rural health access hospitals in Bedford County and Coffee County, as well as updating facilities in Wilson County, will enhance SANE services. Additionally, specialized training and resources will be extended to staff at VIVID Health, VUMC's LGBTQ+ health clinic. The project also aims to strengthen formal linkages with agencies like the Tennessee Sexual Assault Center and Haven of Hope, enhancing support for victims throughout the recovery process and engagement with law enforcement.

This initiative reflects a comprehensive and community-focused approach to addressing the critical needs of sexual assault survivors in Middle Tennessee.


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