J.C. Blair launched its SAFE-T (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination-Telehealth) program for sexual assault victims on the 25th of October, in hopes that sexual assault victims will seek care, comfort and medical treatment at J.C. Blair, knowing there is trained staff to respond to trauma and healing. The event gathered community partners from Juniata College, Penn State, The Abuse Network, Huntingdon House, law enforcement, elected officials and J.C. Blair. The Penn State SAFE-T partners gave an overview of the program and how the technology will enhance the hospital’s ability to work with victims, collect evidence, document, and medically treat victims. That was followed by a testimonial of the importance of SAFE-T from Beth Birch, from the Abuse Network, a community resource that supports victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Bill Hartsock, telehealth support representative from Penn State describes the telehealth as equipment that will serve as a communication medium via a video call between remote nurses and J.C. Blair nurses. This device will allow easy access to sexual assault examination specialists that will work with J.C. Blair’s nurses and patients. The remote nurses are independent and experienced nurses who are always on-call to provide support during sexual assault examinations. They will not only assist the J.C. Blair nurses when examining
but will facilitate the conversation with patients. At the beginning of the screening, patients are asked for their consent to use telehealth to record the interaction. If they are not willing to give consent, their wishes are respected and the telehealth is used only as a means of communication.
Beth Birch, director of victim services from the Abuse Network, shared that the addition of the SAFE-T program to J.C. Blair will greatly enhance resources in the community and will encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward, knowing the J.C. Blair Emergency Department is a safe and trusting place to come for treatment, evidence collection, and comfort in a time of crisis.