WellSpan safe nurses

These nurses received specialized training to become sexual assault forensic nurse examiners at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital.

In what WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital calls an enhancement of its services, eight of its nurses have completed SAFE training.

SAFE stands for sexual assault forensic nurse examiner, and the 54-hour program included sessions with live actors, who taught participants how to approach and treat sexual assault victims.

“Our goal is to provide compassionate care that recognizes the full range of trauma experienced by sexual assault victims,” said Vanessa Smith, emergency department clinical lead and coordinator of the program.

She said the nurses will not only document the physical and medical effects of the assault, but also "help the victim to obtain counseling, emotional support and appropriate follow-up care.”

The program was funded by $83,000 in support from the Ephrata Community Health Foundation, through gifts from community donors and hospital physicians and staff, according to WellSpan.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital has been using the SAFE program since 1999 and currently has 17 nurses trained in it, according to spokeswoman Mary Ann Eckard.

At Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, spokeswoman Barbara Schindo said all the emergency department's advanced practice providers and nurse practitioners — about 30 people in all — have undergone sex assault forensics training.

UPMC Pinnacle hospitals including the one in Lititz offer the SAFE program, according to spokeswoman Kelly McCall, and the system is working to expand it with additional staffing.

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