Welcome to InSANE Stories – stories of people at the front lines of forensic nursing! After a very successful MobileODT customer event at the 2018 IAFN Conference in Reno, we wanted to strengthen our EVA community. We would like to introduce you to one another by highlighting stories from our EVA SANE community. We hope this will create a great platform for collaborations, education on best practices, and finding support and inspiration from each other.
Our first inSANE story is from Rachel Shearin, (BSN, RN, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), the SANE Coordinator at the Sexual Assault Center’s new SAFE Clinic in Nashville, TN.
What inspired you to become a SANE nurse?
When I started my career as a nurse in the Emergency Room, I just saw how much SANE nurses were needed in my community. Nashville General was the only place in Nashville where patients could go for sexual assault cases. Many times after a sexual assault, the victim would come to our ER department. We would have to transfer them back over to Nashville General.
I was also inspired to become a forensic nurse after my own experience with domestic violence. I had experienced strangulation. I didn’t have a forensic nurse to take care of me and do the necessary assessments and documentation. There definitely was no photography involved in my case using something like the EVA System. My own personal and professional experiences inspired me to become a forensic nurse.
That is really inspiring that you were able to turn your situation into a positive experience to help other survivors. Can you tell us how the SAFE Clinic came to be?
The creation of the SAFE Clinic has been in the works for a long time in Nashville and the surrounding counties. Many survivors were going to their local hospital after experiencing an assault with the expectation that they would be taken care of by someone with the knowledge to perform a medical legal exam, the assault kit. Since many hospitals did not have a SANE nurse, survivors were being turned away or referred back to the general hospital. The experience of being transferred around was not a positive one for the survivor or staff.
To meet this need, my organization, the Sexual Assault Center, advocated with law enforcement, the DA’s office, the crime lab and our huge sexual assault task force within Nashville to really advocate for the clinic. We ran a capital campaign and raised $2.5 million which allowed us to build and sustain services for a couple of years. In the 100 days we have been open, we have already had 56 kits completed, so I’m very happy to see that we are providing this necessary service to our community. I hope that stand alone SAFE clinics will become the new norm in the country. One of the most exciting parts about going to the IAFN conference was being surrounded by other clinics and the people who run them.
How are you reaching survivors?
Many of our patients find us through a Google search. Others get referred to us by law enforcement, hospitals, and other local social services.
What has been the response of law enforcement to the clinic?
Our law enforcement was used to going to Nashville General since it was the one facility in town where they were offering the kits and exams. In the beginning, there was a bit of hesitation, but it has been a really nice surprise to see how well they have responded. The SAFE Clinic is such a relaxed, comfortable environment, and they realize this truly is the best place to go when the patient doesn’t have serious injuries.
We couldn’t be happier with just how our partnership is coming along with law enforcement. They have been providing us with a lot of education and we are providing them with a lot of education. I just see that partnership growing as time continues. Some great educational opportunities have come from our partnership.
How does using the EVA System benefit the clinic and the survivors?
We recently got up and running with the EVA System. It is a great benefit that all of our nurses are trained to use the same system along with our protocols and procedures. I foresee things changing dramatically with the EVA System, especially with the DA’s office. I believe it will make a huge difference going to court. We haven’t had those pictures before and a picture says a 1,000 words. I’m really excited to see where this goes, but I would love to answer this question 6 months or a year down the road. The affordability of the EVA System was also a great benefit for us. Initially, the clinic wanted to purchase another system but it was around $30,000. As a non-profit, we need to sustain this clinic and that would have taken a huge chunk out of our sustainability fund.
Personally, I love how easy it is to use. It’s not big, threatening and scary. We are really excited about just the flexibility of it. The EVA System could be something we use without having to gather up all these different pieces and parts to lug around to different places if that is something that we do in the future.
(Parts of this interview we edited for clarity and space.)
Are you an EVA user with an inSANE story? Please share and be the next SANE nurse to be featured. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org