The facts are sobering: one in six women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, one in 10 rape victims are male, and every 98 seconds there is another victim of sexual assault. This year, the CHI Health St. Francis Foundation is undertaking a deeply meaningful project that will shed new light on victim assistance and help staff and law enforcement in the communities we serve. Project Serenity is a new fund established within the St. Francis Foundation to help provide adult victims of sexual assault, trafficking and partner violence an exclusive, safe place to receive comprehensive care, as well as evidence collection from our Sexual Assault Nurse/Forensic Nurse Examiner (SANE/FNE) team.
Project Serenity seeks to reduce the physical and psychological trauma of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and violence victims through sensitive and timely medical examinations performed by specially trained forensic nurse examiners and through collaboration of the interdisciplinary community response teams.
Through Project Serenity, the foundation has provided $295,000 toward this project. Funds contributed to this initiative are designated for creation of a private, restricted consultation/exam room equipped with a private entrance, private shower, and forensic camera equipment specifically designed to promote victim dignity and privacy.
The new, state-of-the-art Cortexflo cameras used during SANE/FNE examinations are able to capture images that are not visible with a regular camera. These pictures can be used as evidence for more effective prosecution of sexual assault suspects. Caregivers are able to capture the photographs, using a foot pedal, allowing nurses to remain focused on the patient during an already vulnerable and awkward time.
SANE/FNE nurses also are able to use the cameras’ screen to help educate and reassure the patient regarding their pain and injuries.
"St. Francis is the only hospital in the area that provides victims of sexual assault with standards of care in accordance with the International Association of Forensic Nurses,” CHI Health SANE Supervisor Jodi Hayes explained. “The volumes at St. Francis have continued to rise each of the last four years since having a structured response.”
Hayes further explained that the Grand Island community has become more aware that services for sexual assault are available.
“St. Francis has done a great deal of collaboration with advocacy centers, surrounding law enforcement agencies, county and district attorneys, other surrounding area community partners to create protocols,” she explained. “St. Francis is the go-to for these patients.” She added that the program also has a virtual telephone option for victims.
For more information on Project Serenity, contact St. Francis Foundation Director Melissa Griffith at (308) 398-5684.