DUBOIS – A technology new to Pennsylvania that’s enhancing care for sexual assault victims launched in Clearfield County Wednesday.
The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Telehealth Center (SAFE-T Center)was launched by Penn State’s College of Nursing with support from the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, at Penn Highlands DuBois.
Officials said SAFE-T Center is a solution to enhance access to high quality sexual assault care in underserved communities.
When a sexual assault examination is performed, one of SAFE-T Center’s expert nurses participates through telehealth.
The expert nurse appears on a screen where she can talk to, and support, both the on-site nurse and the victim.
Though digital telehealth technology, she can also see the live exam in progress.
“Nothing that is done is painful or uncomfortable and it is all under the patient’s control,” said SAFE-T Principal Investigator and Director Sheridan Miyamoto. “We are adding in a second expert and a layer of quality where the focus is what’s best for the patient.”
Officials said prior, Penn Highlands DuBois only had two sexual assault nurse examiners and used the standard rape kits.
“Having the SAFE-T Center with us will afford the nurses some comfort in knowing that they gave high quality care, the best evidence collection and if we move forward to a court case, they’ll feel comfortable and confident that they did what they needed to do for the patient,” said Emergency Department Director Kim Cicon.
Officials said the technology also provides better images and video that will strengthen forensic evidence collection and documentation for district attorneys and law enforcement.
“Any time we can benefit victims of crime I think it’s important because it helps us as law enforcement to make any interaction with us as easy as possible for them,” said DuBois Assistant Police Chief Dustin Roy.
SAFE-T Center will also be at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, JC Blair Memorial Hospital and UMPC Susquehanna.
Officials said they hope SAFE-T becomes a state-wide solution.