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Sexual assault nurse examiner program recruiting RNs to be based in Kentville

Rita van Vulpen is a retired crisis response clinician and nurse, and says the immediate response that will be provided for victims of sexual assault through Kentville’s upcoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, or SANE, will “significantly lessen the long-term impact” of sexual violence on survivors.
Rita van Vulpen is a retired crisis response clinician and nurse, and says the immediate response that will be provided for victims of sexual assault through Kentville’s upcoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, or SANE, will “significantly lessen the long-term impact” of sexual violence on survivors. - Sara Ericsson

Program’s immediate treatment and support gives victims ‘sense of control’ after assault

KENTVILLE – The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program is coming to Kentville and looking to hire Annapolis Valley registered nurses to train and join its team.

Lisanne Turner is the executive director of the Tri-County Women’s Centre in Yarmouth, where the program kicked off after the centre won the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s request-for-proposal process for the program in 2015.

As Yarmouth’s SANE program went live Sept. 4, Turner has confirmed job ads have now been posted looking to hire registered nurses for the same service to be provided in the Annapolis Valley.

“Sexualized violence happens everywhere. Victims and survivors deserve dignity, respect, and choices when they reach out for support,” says Turner.

“Having a program where nurse examiners are trained in a specialized way specifically for these situations responds to that.”

Yarmouth SANE coordinator Carmen Phinney says their program currently has 13 nurse examiners who work in pairs and respond to calls reporting a sexual assault within 1.5 hours of the call being placed.

“This is a 24/7 service. They can respond at all days, at all times to anyone who’s been sexually assault who either calls, or has been admitted to the emergency department, or who has contacted police,” says Phinney.

Another crucial program component, according to Turner, is that victims are able to dictate how their sexual assault examination will happen choosing whether forensic evidence is collected, and what is done with it. The program can store evidence for six months while the client decides how to proceed.

“This gives some sense of control back to the victim. The kind of care they receive, and whether evidence is collected, follows what they want to do. They can choose to press charges immediately, to wait, or not to at all,” says Turner.

The program’s main goal is to provide immediate support for the victim – something retired crisis response clinician and nurse Rita van Vulpen says is essential to limiting their trauma.

Van Vulpen has worked with people both immediately after assaults and as survivors later in life and says this program will “significantly lessen the long-term impact” of sexual violence.

“Support is often the biggest part of it – how to process and overcome fears stemming from the incident,” she says.

“You never forget, but support can teach you how to move on.”

Turner says Kentville’s program will require 15 registered nurses with two to three years of experience for training, which is expected to begin by November. Nurses will also need to be able to reach the Kentville hospital within 1.5 hours of a response call.

Job postings can be found at the Tri-County Women's Centre.


From the NSHA:

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has updated how to access SANE services on its website here.

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgement and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  1. Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  2. Call local police or RCMP
  3. Through your primary health care provider
  4. SANE 24-hour response line: 
    • Halifax area: 902-425-0122
    • Guysborough and Antigonish Counties: 1-877-880-SANE(7263)
    • Yarmouth: 1-833-577-SANE(7263)

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