Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray announced Feb. 5 in Boston that $3.3 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice will be used to create the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Telenursing Center, which will be used to enhance care and support for victims of sexual assault throughout the nation.
“Massachusetts is proud to be a national leader in providing the highest quality of care for victims of sexual assault,” Murray, chairman of the Governors Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, said in a news release. “By investing in this new telenursing center and medical care services, Massachusetts is leveraging technology to improve public health for victims of sexual assault and ensure a higher quality of care in their healing process.”
A pilot telenursing center will be created at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass., and will provide 24/7 access to expert medical assistance and consultation for healthcare providers developed by national expert forensic sexual assault nurse examiners. The grant will provide consultation by the Massachusetts SANE Telenursing Center for healthcare providers who work with selected populations in other pilot programs around the country.
“The SANE Telenursing Center will allow Massachusetts to share [its]expertise to help victims across the country,” John Polanowicz, the states secretary of Health and Human Services, said in the release.
Grant funding will support several components of the pilot, including information technology equipment and assistance at each pilot site, expert clinical staffing, education and technical assistance for pilot participants, and ongoing evaluation of the overall program. Best practices and lessons learned from this project then will be used to develop a national telenursing center, according to the release.
“This program will allow us to use telemedicine to promote the most effective physical, emotional and forensic care for sexual assault victims,” Lauren Smith, interim commissioner of the states Department of Public Health, said in the release. “We also need to do everything that we can to support the frontline professionals who work with these patients.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, is funding the pilot program for three years. The states DPH will be the lead agency on the project, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital will provide the physical location and infrastructure to support the center.
“Newton-Wellesley Hospital is proud to support the … efforts to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive expert, compassionate care,” Erin Miller, coordinator of the domestic violence and sexual assault program at Newton-Wellesley, said in the release.
In 1997, the state DPH created the Massachusetts SANE program to provide compassionate, comprehensive and coordinated expert forensic nursing care to victims seeking treatment after a sexual assault. To date, more than 16,000 patients have been treated by a total of 105 trained SANE providers in Massachusetts.
“All survivors deserve access to the expertise SANE brings together — forensic evidence collection, nursing and advocacy,” said Gina Scaramella, executive director, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. “BARCC is honored to be part of the grant project, and we are excited to discover the ways that these components of SANE can come together via technology to help survivors in underserved communities.”
The grant targets three distinct phases of implementation. In the first year, the funded agencies will develop the infrastructure and capabilities to deliver telenursing services and will identify partner healthcare sites that work within targeted populations. The second and third years of the grant will focus on implementing telenursing care throughout the U.S.
LEARN MORE about the Massachusetts SANE program at Mass.gov/DPH/SANE.