PSU sexual assault program

University Park, Centre County, Pa. - Penn State is pioneering a new effort to improve the handling of sexual assault cases. On Tuesday, the university opened the Pennsylvania SAFE-T Center.
 
SAFE-T stands for Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Training Center. The  project will use telemedicine to provide better exams and to offer more support for rural victims of sexual assault.
 
In this SAFE-T Center simulation lab,  an experienced nurse examiner  will  respond 24/7  by live video-conferencing to help nurses in rural hospitals. The specially trained nurses will offer step-by-step guidance on giving forensic exams for sexual assault victims.
 
 SAFE-T Center Principal Investigator Dr. Sheridan Miyomoto was recruited by the Penn State School of Nursing to develop the program, because of her research at the University of California/Davis.
 
"We found that if nurses in rural communities that have less experience were provided with expertise from nurses at an academic center that they had higher quality exams, that there was better care for the patient, and that ultimately they were able to collect more forensically defensible evidence that could ultimately be used in prosecution," she says.
 
Dr  Miyomoto says another aim of the program is to  enhance and develop the skills of local nurses so that they can become the experts at their hospitals.
 
Penn State plans to officially launch pilot programs from the  SAFE-T Center in March 2018, at  four rural hospitals in Pennsylvania. Two in our region will benefit --Penn Highlands DuBois and J-C- Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon
 
J.C. Blair Director of Nursing, Joye Gingrich says, "We're really excited because in our small community hospital, there's limited resources in specialty care services,  so what this will do is really allow us to provide the best care to our patients coming in, that are victims of sexual assault."
 
And Gingrich adds that, "We have a local college that's right down the street from us and we know that these sexual assault are under-reported, so what we really want to do is build that relationship, so that those students and any community members are really feel comfortable coming to our hospital to be examined to increase the reporting of these sexual assaults."
 
Dr Miyomoto says, ideally, if the 15-month project is shown to improve the handling of sexual assault cases, it will lead to a statewide network of SAFE-T Centers in Pennsylvania's 48 rural counties.
 
"Can we generate the research that shows that this is the right model, so that we can ultimately scale it up and be a research for every community that has needs?" That's the question she hopes to answer in the affirmative.
 
 The program is funded by a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Penn State's Child Maltreatment Solutions Network and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute..
 

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