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Medical Care for Sexual Assault Survivors
Sexual assault survivors who go to Salem Hospital's emergency room for care are treated by professionals specially trained to work with sexual assault.
A Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurse is on duty or on call around the clock to ensure survivors receive appropriate treatment as quickly as possible and that any evidence that might be used in prosecuting the assailant is collected and preserved according to strict standards.
One of the SART nurse's first concerns is for the patient's privacy. After the survivor checks in at the hospital emergency room, the SART nurse will move her as quickly as possible to a room with more privacy for the examination. Also, the survivor's name is kept confidential from other staff in the emergency room.
The SART nurse interviews the survivor about the assault, mainly for information that may be pertinent to the survivor's medical condition. The nurse also takes numerous samples such as hair, saliva, fingernail clippings and scrapings, and swabs of any bites, abrasions, or other injuries and preserves them for possible use as evidence. The nurse also tests for the presence of sexually transmitted disease. Each article of the survivor's clothing is removed, sealed in a separate package, and marked for evidence. A pelvic examination will be conducted and medications may be prescribed, including medications that can act as preventives for certain sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
The whole process takes about three hours to complete.
The SART nurses also do follow-up with survivors. A nurse will call a day or two after the hospital exam to check on how the survivor is doing.