Middlebury College and Porter Hospital join forces to step up support for victims of sexual assault.
Alison Wurst, Porter Hospital Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, says sexual assault survivors have not always had the services they needed right at their fingertips.
“In the past we had needed to have someone wait or comeback later on or perhaps even go up to University of Vermont to have an exam done there.”
A new partnership between Middlebury College and Porter Medical Center is closing the service gap by offering students and locals immediate care, 24/7.
“Between nurses who are here at Porter Hospital as well as nurses who work at the health center at Middlebury College, there is always someone who is on call,” says Wurst.
Thanks to a federal grant, the college and the hospital have been able to train 6 SANEs, or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
Now if a Middlebury College student needs a sexual assault examination, it can be done right at the college’s health center.
“However if for some reason one of our four SANEs isn’t available or if it’s a local community member they can access the same high level health care over at Porter Hospital,” says Dr. Mark Peluso, Medical Director of Parton Health Service.
Sexual assault nurse examiners stress the importance of immediate care.
“Even to the extent of not having gone to the bathroom yet, and not having changed their clothes, that’s when we’re at the point when we can get the best evidence,” says Wurst.
The SANEs also have access to specialized kits used for collecting forensic evidence, which can go a long way in court.
“We are looking for evidence that could potentially be used in a court of law if a patient chose to report the assault to the police,” says Wurst.
The hospital and the college want to remind people the SANEs are not just there to give examinations, but also offer support.
“Just because you come in and want to talk to a SANE doesn’t mean you have to have an exam,” says Peluso. “We’re open to everything and it’s not just for women, it’s for men, it’s for transgender students, we can handle everything.”
A 7th sexual assault nurse examiner is being trained to serve the Middlebury area.