Program in Forsyth County helps treat victims of sexual assault

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center is one of only 28 hospitals in North Carolina to have a SANE program.

There are currently 12 sexual assault nurse examiners at the hospital, including two who are finishing up their certification. The nurses are tasked with properly securing evidence from survivors of abuse.

They are on call at Forsyth, Clemmons and Kernersville medical centers, and average about seven to nine calls a month.

“It never gets easier, you never get quicker at it like you would most things because each one is an individual,” said Michelle Shores, the assistant nurse manager at Forsyth Medical Center and a SANE nurse.

Shores has been part of SANE since 2013, and tries her hardest to put each patient who walks through the door at ease.

“You also have to establish a rapport with your patients too, because they’ve done experienced something that’s really horrible and here you are asking them to relive that and collecting evidence on top of that,” Shores said.

All evidence gathered during the exam is then placed in a sexual assault evidence collection kits and sent to the State Bureau of Investigation.

Everything is done with the victim’s consent and at their speed.

“It goes at their pace, not my pace. If it takes me three hours, it takes me three hours. If it takes me five hours, it takes me five hours. It’s whatever the pace the patient needs to go at,” Shores said.

Shores says it’s important patients know after the exam is finished they do have access to a shower and fresh clothing.

SANE does not handle cases involving children.

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