Texas Health Kaufman Nurses Carry Out Special Mission Through SANE Program|
KAUFMAN, Texas — For more than four years, two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman have been making a difference in the lives of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Trauma coordinator Darla Hibdon, RN, SACA-CP, SANE, and ER nurse Maggie Swanson, RN, SACA-CP, SANE, started the sexual assault treatment program in 2006 after watching a patient being transported across the region to a facility where she could be treated by a certified sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). Until the exam was completed and her injuries treated and evidence collected, the patient could not change her clothes or clean herself.
“It took several hours for all that to happen,” said Hibdon, who has background as an ER and Labor and Delivery nurse at Texas Health Kaufman. “Right then, we decided to do something about it.”
Hibdon, Swanson and leadership at Texas Health Kaufman immediately began developing a SANE program.
“People going through this kind of victimization need to be treated quickly and sensitively,” Hibdon said. “Victims need to know they are in the hands of someone who knows what they’re going through and has been trained to care for them.”
Now, Hibdon and Swanson, both certified as forensic nurse examiners, provide critical care to victims from across the region. Their training makes them a key part of each victim’s recovery — and often finds them involved in the eventual prosecution of the perpetrators.
“There are two parts to our work that come together for one mission,” Hibdon said. “We want to care for the patient and take care of their emotional and physical injuries, but we are also focused on collecting any evidence we can to help law enforcement do their job to bring the perpetrators to justice. The patients and their families are comforted to know that we can help do that.”
Since the SANE program started, Texas Health Kaufman has taken care of more than 150 victims of sexual assault. In 2005, the year before the program began, Texas Health Kaufman treated eight sexual assault victims. Today, the program treats more than 60 victims a year.
The patients come from Kaufman County and outlying areas.
“Once the program was up and running it was quickly apparent how needed it was,” said Swanson, who has worked in the Texas Health Kaufman ER for four years. She also has experience as a labor and delivery nurse. “It’s rewarding to know that what we’re doing is helping these victims in some small way.”
The International Association of Forensic Nursing developed the SANE certification to help nurses provide care to patients while addressing issues related to evidence collection and court testimony. SANE nurses treat victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse. Both Hibdon and Swanson have treated patients and gone on to testify in trials that have resulted in convictions of sex offenders.
“In a perfect world, this certification wouldn’t even be needed,” Swanson said. “But the reality is these crimes happen, and we want to be there for victims. We want them to know that we’re on their side.”
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