Sexual assault examiners join forces

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) of Curry and Roosevelt counties have come together to form an alliance to help victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse. The two counties have formed SANE of the 9th Judicial District, according to a press release.

The organization provides free, confidential services to victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse. The specially trained and certified nurses collect medical and forensic evidence and provide court testimony to aid prosecution.

“It’s hard in this area for people to think we will be needing this type of service,” Amber Hamilton, SANE program administrator, said.
Since the Curry County program began in April 2003, more than 200 exams have been performed. More than 115 exams have been performed in the Roosevelt County program, founded in 2004. Some of the cases dated back to 1998.

The two programs joined together to provide a more solidified SANE unit because the communities served are considered to be rural, Hamilton said. By combining forces, the agency was able to gain funding to create two county clinical coordinator positions and her administrative position.

Having an administrator will allow the clinical coordinators more time to focus on the needs of victims. In addition, Hamilton will be able to focus on obtaining grants and have the opportunity to provide community awareness education and training.

Both Plains Regional Medical Center and Roosevelt General Hospital have certified SANE nurses on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When a victim of sexual assault or abuse comes into the hospital, the SANE nurse provides medical and forensic services to the victim. A victim’s advocate will be provided from the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office, if the victim so desires.

“We work closely with the district attorney’s office,” said Hamilton.
The SANE nurses will continue to be in the hospitals. The administration offices will be located at the Roosevelt General Hospital.

The SANE program staff also works closely with the Curry and Roosevelt County sheriff’s departments and the Clovis and Portales police departments. The staff also works with the Eastern New Mexico University campus police.

“We basically assist law enforcement in any way that we can. The body is the crime scene,” Tawnya Burton, Roosevelt County Clinical Coordinator, said.