Amanda Shelley was sitting in her dentist’s waiting room when she received a call from the police. A local teenage girl had been sexually assaulted and needed an exam. Telehealth for sexual assault victims helps rural areas to meet the needs of local victims.
Shelley, a nurse in rural Eagle County, Colorado, went to her car and called a telehealth company to arrange an appointment with a sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE. The nurse examiners have extensive training in how to care for assault survivors and collect evidence for possible criminal prosecution.
Early Care Via Telehealth for Sexual Assault Victims Can Help Reduce Dire Consequences for Rural Survivors
About an hour later, Shelley met the patient at the Colorado Mountain Medical urgent care clinic in the small town of Avon. She used a tablet to connect by video with a SANE about 2,000 miles away, in New Hampshire. The service, known as “teleSANE,” is new at Shelley’s hospital. Before, sexual assault patients faced mountains of obstacles — literally — when they had to travel to a hospital in another county for care.
Ada Sapp, a health care executive at Colorado Mountain Medical, was assaulted before the hospital system began its SANE program. She was shocked to learn she would need to drive 45 minutes to another county for an exam. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing that by myself,” Sapp said. “So, my husband would have had to come with me, or a friend. The logistics made it feel insurmountable.”