UnityPoint Health - Meriter - Forensic Nurse Examiner Program

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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 sexual abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence begin the healing process. Since 1988, the Forensic Nurse Examiners Program has provided care to more than 10,000 victims of all ages, genders, races and populations.

Hours & Directions

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.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday: Open 24 hours
  • Tuesday: Open 24 hours
  • Wednesday: Open 24 hours
  • Thursday: Open 24 hours
  • Friday: Open 24 hours
  • Saturday: Open 24 hours
  • Sunday: Open 24 hours


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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 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.

Community Support

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.

Resources & FAQ

Resources

Resources for Medical Professionals

Forensic Nurse Examiners Program welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with medical professionals from all disciplines. Due to the highly specialized care that is required for patients of sexual assault, forensic nurse examiners are available for questions, consults and exams. Regardless of when the assault occurred, forensic nurses recommends the patient is seen by our program for a specialized exam and collaboration of services.

Follow-Up Care
At discharge, we encourage patients to follow-up with his or her primary care provider. With the patient's consent, the Forensic Nurse Examiners Program will provide all lab and exam results.

Forensic Nurse Examiners Program recommends the following care:

  • HIV testing
  • Syphilis testing
  • Vaccine assessment
  • Emotional wellness
  • Health assessment

Presentations
Forensic nurses are available to speak to groups and organizations and may also provide expert testimony in a court of law.

Patient Handout
You are welcome to print and provide this handout to patients you are referring to the Forensic Nurse Examiners Program at UnityPoint Health – Meriter.

Resources for Law Enforcement & Child Protection Services

Forensic Nurse Examiners Program welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with law enforcement and child protection services from all counties. Due to the highly specialized care that is required for patients of sexual assault, forensic nurses are available for questions, consults and exams. Regardless of when the assault occurred, Forensic Nurse Examiners Program recommends the patient is seen by our program for a specialized exam and collaboration of services.

However, to obtain forensic physical findings, it is best the examination is performed as soon as possible.

Evidence Collection

  • Evidence for the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit can be collected up to 120 hours after the assault. Any questions about the time frame, please call us at (608) 417-5916.
  • Injury documentation including photography
  • Strangulation forensic documentation including photography

Additional Services
Forensic nurses are also trained in:

  • Suspect exams
  • Child physical abuse
  • Elder abuse
  • Assisting in coroner cases

Presentations
Forensic nurses are available to speak to groups and organizations and may also provide expert testimony in a court of law.

Patient Handout
You are welcome to print and provide this handout to patients you are referring to the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program at UnityPoint Health – Meriter.

FAQ | Sexual Assault

Was this sexual assault?
My friend didn't want to have sex, but she didn't fight back or yell.
Sexual assault is when someone has sex with you when you don't want to. It's common to "freeze" and not fight or yell. It's also common not to have injuries after an assault. If you are impaired from drugs or alcohol and don't say yes, it's sexual assault – even if you can't remember the details.

She knows him and he's a really nice guy, but she said no.
If you didn't consent, there's no excuse for the other person to continue. The vast majority of sexual assaults occur by someone we know.
Will forensic nurses call my parents, Dean of Students or the police?
No. Forensic nurses will not contact anyone without your consent. Program funding covers the cost of SANE exams so insurance is not needed. Forensic nurses will provide medical care even if you don't report the crime.
Will I receive care if I know who sexually assaulted me?
Yes. Many of the assault victims forensic nurses see (approx. 400/year) know their perpetrator. It is your decision whether or not to tell the nurse the person's name.
Will I receive care if I was drinking and can't remember what happened?
Yes. Many patients have a limited or no memory of the assault. Alcohol and other drugs can make it difficult to recall the details. Some students say, "Something just doesn't feel right" or "I feel like someone had sex with me."

Forensic Nurse Examiners Program staff will not call the police if you were drinking and/or underage. Nurses will provide medical care even if you can't recall the details.
How can you help?
Don't question your friend's actions.
Being assaulted is never your fault or your friend's fault.

Be supportive.
Your support can have a positive impact on your friend's recovery.
How can we help?