DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — For victims of sexual assault, there are few places in the state of Alabama that can conduct a rape kit, collecting valuable DNA evidence after the attack. Evidence that could help convict a rapist.
In 2016, Southeast Health saw the problem and staffed a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, program, making it possible for victims of rape to have evidence collected here in the Wiregrass.
“Having a rape kit done when they are at the point of agreeing to that made them feel as though I did it, I did everything I needed to do in order to get that perpetrator tried,” House of Ruth Executive Director, Angela Underwood said.
Since the SANE program was implemented at Southeast Health, Underwood has worked closely with the hospital and law enforcement to be an advocate for rape victims.
But in September this program came to an end. In a statement, Southeast Health says they had to discontinue the service “when the hospital was unable to staff it with the specially trained nurses who are needed.”
“For so many victims it’s hard to go through that process,” Underwood said. “It’s even harder now because we don’t have the SANE center in Southeast.”
In order for a nurse to be SANE certified, they have to undergo about 80 hours of training. From there these nurses are on call 24/7 and must be able to respond when needed.
“Nationally, there is a shortage of registered nurses who are specially trained to work with victims of sexual assault and that is true here in the Wiregrass as well,” Southeast Health said.
In the future Southeast Health is interested in collaborating with law enforcement and other healthcare providers to make these services available once again for the Wiregrass.