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Avera secures grant to expand sexual assault nurse examiner availability
The health care provider announced the money from the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday
In an initiative aimed at bolstering support for victims of interpersonal violence, Avera Health announced Thursday that they had received a $950,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The grant, which will be used over a three-year period, will significantly increase the availability of trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) across the Upper Midwest, with a particular focus on rural areas.
Rachael Sherard, senior vice president for Rural Health at Avera, highlighted the significance of the grant in improving access to crucial health care services, especially in rural communities.
"Avera is continually seeking out new collaborations to improve access to vital health care services in rural areas; this is just one example," Sherard said.
The grant will enhance Avera’s existing initiative, called ‘SANE-READY: Advancing SANE Resources for Rural Victims in the Upper Midwest.’ The program aims to make these specialized health care professionals more accessible at sites throughout the company’s coverage area, both in person and through telemedicine.
Jen Canton, SANE supervisor at Avera, emphasized the pivotal role SANEs play in caring for victims of sexual offense crimes.
"Trained SANEs are absolutely essential in advocating and caring for victims of crimes like sexual assault and human trafficking. SANEs help victims navigate through this tragedy, providing essential post-assault care and connection with community resources and support services," Canton explained.
The grant includes funding for both virtual and in-person training, a SANE preceptorship program, trauma-specific training for mental health professionals, and formal support for caregivers in collaboration with the Compass Center. Additionally, it aims to offer more support services and resources to victims.
"We hope to significantly increase the number of SANE-trained nurses at Avera facilities. This, in turn, will help reduce or eliminate any travel required for victims as well as time spent waiting to receive care, ultimately improving patient outcomes and healing," Canton added.
The project sites include six Avera hospitals across the region. Future expansion is anticipated, with partners from Indian Health Service (IHS) and neighboring state hospitals being added regularly.
The initiative is poised to benefit not only victims but also rural hospitals, their staff, and local law enforcement seeking justice for victims.
"For Avera, rural is in our DNA. It’s core to who we are and our mission. Addressing the needs of assault and being there when abuse victims need us with highly trained staff is a need of our time, and we are grateful for this grant funding that will help us expand and enhance access to specialized care," concluded Sherard.