Avera receives grant to increase sexual assault nurse examiners

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Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 1:05 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Avera Health announced Thursday that the health system has been awarded nearly $1 million to increase the number of trained sexual assault nurse examiners for victims of violence.

The $950,000 grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and will be awarded over three years.

The announcement comes on National Rural Health Day.

“This grant will enhance access to SANE-trained personnel, especially in rural areas,” said Rachael Sherard, senior vice president for rural health at Avera. “Avera is continually seeking out new collaborations to improve access to vital heath care services in rural areas; this is just one example.”

“Trained SANEs are absolutely essential in advocating and caring for victims of crimes like sexual assault and human trafficking. SANEs help victims navigate through this tragedy, providing essential post-assault care and connection with community resources and support services.  For those victims who wish to have an evidence collection kit collected, we help ensure that evidence is gathered properly; evidence that’s valuable when seeking justice for victims,” said Jen Canton, SANE supervisor at Avera and program director for this grant project.

The grant funds training and— in partnership with the Compass Center — support and resources for victims.

The hope is that having more SANE-trained nurses at Avera facilities will reduce victims’ need to travel for care.

Project sites include Sioux Falls, Yankton, Mitchell, Pierre Aberdeen and Marshall, Minnesota.

More sites will be selected each year, including partners from Indian Health Service (IHS) and hospitals in neighboring states.

“We are excited about this program that will directly benefit victims of sexual assault in the rural Midwest, from both tribal and non-tribal communities,” Canton said.