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Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville launches SAFE Team

Madisonville, KY (May 1, 2023) — April highlighted Sexual Assault Awareness month and the Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville Emergency Department (ED) launched our first ever Sexual Assault Forensics Examiners (SAFE) team. The SAFE program provides 24/7 access to a nurse who is specially trained to care for assault victims with compassionate, focused, and confidential care.

This dedicated group of nurses attended classroom and clinical training in collaboration with the University of Louisville Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program.  A SANE nurse is trained in forensic examination of adults and adolescents who have been sexually assaulted. Some of the training includes collection of evidence, forensic interviews, and documentation.  These nurses are also trained on how to testify in legal proceedings in accordance with Kentucky law.  

According to Amy Wallace, Director of Emergency Services, “We have always known there was a need for experts to exist in our community.”   “When these victims present to our department seeking this type of exam, we want to make sure we are providing them with exactly what they need in that moment.  They may just need testing, access to medications, or a person to listen. We want to empower victims with the ability to make informed decisions allowing them to have control in this situation, a feeling that they may have lost during their assault,” added Wallace. “Their care from the time they walk in the door until they are discharged is directed at honoring their requests.  Consent is central throughout the entire exam and can be withdrawn at any moment at the patient’s request.”

The Baptist Health Deaconess Foundation has been pivotal in funding these services in our facility. Donations to the Foundation allow for the enhancement of patient services and allow our team to go beyond meeting the medical needs of our patients.

Next steps for the SAFE program are expanding services to offer pediatric examinations, collaborating with community leaders to coordinate education, and collaborating with our local law enforcement teams.

Individuals also need access to support after they leave the emergency room.  Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville has been working closely with Sanctuary in Hopkinsville to identify what support we can provide each other when a patient presents in crisis.  “Our hope is to build a trusting relationship with local leaders and bring awareness to the needs of our community through our presence and being a voice for victims,” said Wallace.
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