One of the most important tools against sex assault, the so-called SANE exam or rape kit, became fully operational at Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital Saturday (March 14). Elyse Diewald, who coordinates the sexual assault nurse examiners at BCH and helped set up the Foothills’ program, discussed the new SANE program with about two dozen law enforcement officers, other nurses and social workers during an open house on Friday in Boulder.
The SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) exam includes a history of the assault that guides medical treatment, a detailed physical exam with documentation of injuries, and the collection of legal evidence that can lead to conviction of rapists.
An I-News investigation published last November found that SANE exams aren’t widely available near Colorado university campuses, or near college campuses nationally. Of the top 100 colleges as ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2014, only four provide the exams in their student health centers, according to a survey cited at the time.
The rape kit wasn’t available at the University of Colorado or even in Boulder County, I-News found. The same was true for Colorado State University and the city of Fort Collins.
That has now changed for Boulder.
“For the survivor, it’s important for them to know they have been medically cleared, that they are getting proper medical care,” Boulder sex crimes prosecutor Katharina Booth said last fall. “As a prosecutor, the SANE exam often gives us vital evidence that helps us prove fundamental elements of the crime of sexual assault.”
Dr. Kim Feldhaus, an emergency physician and the medical director of the Foothills SANE Program, said, “Boulder Community Health and our emergency physicians are committed to working with the SANE program to ensure these patients receive quality, compassionate care 24 hours a day.”
Survivors are offered medications to prevent communicable diseases as well as emergency contraception if needed. Information regarding community resources and follow-up medical care are also provided.
Foothills Hospital is located at 4747 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder.