Forensic Nurse Examiners Program

The Forensic Nurse Examiners Program (formerly known as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program or SANE) at UnityPoint Health – Meriter strives to help victims of sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence begin the healing process. Since 1988, the Forensic Nurse Examiners Program has provided care to victims of all ages, races and populations.

We care for about 400 women, men and children each year from Dane County and many of the surrounding communities. Located within the Emergency Department at UnityPoint Health – Meriter hospital, the Forensic Nurse Examiners Program provides care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is the only program of its kind in Dane County.

Expert Staff

The Forensic Nurse Examiners Program is staffed by registered nurses who have advanced education and instruction in medical-forensic examination and in psychological and emotional trauma. Forensic nurses are available to speak to groups and organizations and may also provide expert testimony in a court of law.

Care Provided

We recognize this is a frightening, traumatic time for victims. Our forensic nurses will provide a safe, compassionate exam and empower the patient to determine their plan of care, including:

  • Emotional support
  • Physical examination and wellness check
  • Collection of medical-forensic evidence
  • Assistance with reporting the crime to police, when requested (mandatory reporting for children)
  • Assistance with concerns about sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy
  • Assistance with safety planning
  • Development of a medical follow-up plan 

Follow-Up Care

After the exam, a forensic nurse will call the patient to discuss any lab test results and may refer the patient to professionals who can provide additional services including:

  • The Dane County Rape Crisis Center for assistance with crisis intervention, advocacy, and counseling.
  • The Crime Victim Compensation Fund, which provides reimbursement for medical care, clothing, time lost on the job and other losses as a result of the assault.
  • Health care providers for follow-up medical care. With the patient's consent, the Forensic Nurse Examiners Program will provide all lab and exam results to the primary care provider.

Insurance/Patient Fees

Meriter accepts all commercial insurance providers such as Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation, Dean Health Plan, Group Health Cooperative, UnitedHealthcare and Unity Health Plans, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. 

If a patient has insurance, but prefers not to use it, due to confidentiality reasons, or is uninsured, the hospital can apply for reimbursement through the WI SAFE Fund. The SAFE Fund is a program that can provide financial assistance for the cost of a forensic medical exam for victims of sexual assault. 

If the patient does not have medical coverage, he or she may be eligible for assistance from the Crime Victim Compensation Fund or the Uncompensated Care Program through Meriter. However, Meriter will help all patients regardless of his or her ability to pay. 

A referral is not needed to be seen by a forensic nurse.

The Forensic Nurse Examiners Program is a community effort financially supported by:

Visit the UnityPoint Health - Meriter Foundation to support the important work this program provides to those in need.