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A sexual assault evidence collection kit sits on a table in OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital. (FILE)

Why Hudson Health Center doesn't provide sexual assault examinations anymore

In 2005, Ohio University phased out the on-campus sexual assault examination program. 

Ever since, nurses at Hudson Health Center have not been required to undergo Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training and rape kits are not offered at Hudson Health Center. Today, the only place where OU students can get a sexual assault examination in Athens County is at the OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, according to a previous Post report

“(The) best practice is for sexual nurse exams to happen in the emergency room,” OU Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones said. “(At O’Bleness), they serve the whole community, and their nurses are on a kind of a rotation and can be trained and then they’re more often called.”

Keely Stockwell, a spokesperson for OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, said O’Bleness offers the highest amount of security, safety and accessibility for survivors of sexual assault.

“Our highly trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE) have specialized training and experience with providing care for victims of sexual assault,” Stockwell said in an email. “The hospital emergency department is also well equipped to serve any additional medical needs victims of sexual assault may have.”

O’Bleness is 1.2 miles from Hudson Health Center. Hall-Jones said Campus Care tries to ensure that survivors get to O’Bleness for a sexual assault examination after working up the courage to do so.

“The Campus Care people will do everything they can to help ensure that the survivor is taken care of and sometimes will even help transport them to the hospital because they don’t want that person to decide not to it,” Hall-Jones said.

O’Bleness also works in conjunction with Athens’ Sexual Assault Response Team to better help survivors when they come to the facility.

“This group is made up of representatives from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Athens and Ohio University police departments, sexual assault victim advocacy groups and others,” Stockwell said in an email.

The availability of sexual assault examinations at O’Bleness hasn’t stopped everyone from wanting examinations on campus. Hall-Jones said some students want the SANE exams to happen on campus and have asked for Campus Care to bring them back.

“I’ve heard survivors and others advocating to try and get them in Campus Care, but I can understand Campus Care’s perspective of ‘they do them and they do them really well at the hospital,’” Hall-Jones said.

The sexual assault examination program began at Hudson Health Center in 1999 when OU received a grant that allowed four of its Campus Care nurses to become Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or SANE, trained, according to that previous Post report.

Hall-Jones said the SANE-trained nurses did not get called very often when the program was running. That was one of the reasons the program ended in 2005.

Another reason for the programs ending was that SANE nurses can be called to testify in court, Hall-Jones said. When the SANE nurses at OU did not perform examinations often, the possibility of them being called into court became a concern.

“The chain of evidence is really important,” Hall-Jones said. “(The SANE nurses) weren’t feeling that they were doing (rape kits) enough to feel confident in their abilities to actually testify in court.”

Hall-Jones also said the program was phased out because the SANE nurses worked around the clock, but Hudson Health Center is not a 24-hour facility.

“The survivor would have to wait, and there would be a police officer that would be there to guard the building and open up the building because nobody’s there after hours,” Hall-Jones said. “It didn’t feel very comfortable to do that.”

@abblawrence

am166317@ohio.edu

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