Resources for victims of sexual assault of all ages at Palmetto Health

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As the nation recognizes April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Palmetto Health wants you to know about a resource for victims of assault and abuse of all ages.

WIS got a look inside the examination room specifically designed for SANE nurses, Friday. "SANE" stands for "Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners." The group of five nurses and one coordinator serve several area hospitals, operate from a mobile unit and always have someone on call. The home base for the program is in Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.

One SANE nurse told WIS the care a patient gets upon coming into the examination room is entirely up to them.

"They just wanna make sure that they're ok," said SANE nurse, Shellie Keisler. "And a lot of times they feel like it's their fault. We are there to help them to understand the whole process and to guide them. If they want to use law enforcement we help guide them through that. The biggest thing that I hear a lot is - 'I just want to be OK."

Keisler says she wants more people to know about this service - in the hopes that more people will come in if they need help.

"One good thing about what we do - we can do all of it, we can do some of it, we can do none of it," Keisler said. "It is completely up to them what we do. And a lot of times I think that lessens their anxiety as well... to know that they're in charge of their care and what happens to their body."

If a victim of sexual assault comes into the Emergency Department at Palmetto Health and claims sexual assault, SANE nurses are immediately called in, and once medically cleared, the patient is meeting with a SANE nurse and assessing their options.

It can be as little as just having a conversation with a nurse - to collecting a full sexual assault evidence kit.

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