CARSON CITY, NV - Carson Tahoe Health is taking some heat after a recent move to send sexual assault victims to Washoe County for examination. They say it's better for victims whose cases may later go to court. However, some in law enforcement think it can be further traumatizing.
Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer Anna Anders explains the hospital will no longer to keep a "SANE" or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner on staff. She says since Carson Tahoe Health only sees 1 to 2 sexual assault victims per month, it's difficult to maintain the rigorous training. With a greater number of sexual assault cases processed in Washoe County, she believes the delicate process of collecting and preserving evidence would be better handled there. "Whether we have extra funding, extra training, any of that," she explains, "if they're only performing one case a month, is that sufficient, you know to provide a case? To be able to sit in a courtroom and testify to their own expertise on this matter?"
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong isn't convinced. "We need to elevate the interest here," he says. "For the last 12 years this program has come up and down, and it's just not gotten solid footing underneath it." He says sending rape victims out of town can be discouraging. Furlong agrees evidence collection is important, but he says he'd like to see some compromise to keep a specially-trained nurse in the community. "We have raised up a successful program several times, and every single time it has failed."
Anders explains that the medical needs of anyone who comes to the Emergency Room seeking help will be met, and that sexual assault victims will be put in touch with an advocate who can help them. Furlong urges victims of sexual assault who live in Carson City not to drive to Reno. He says to call 9-1-1 and law enforcement will get you the help you need.