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Treasure Coast nurses trained to help sexual assault victims

Treasure Coast nurses trained to help sexual assault victims (WPEC)

Nurses make up the biggest health care job in the United States.

They care for patients all day and night. Now, several of them are going above their typical duties.

Several nurses on the Treasure Coast are training to become SANE, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. That means they will know how to handle a patient who comes in suffering after a sex crime. The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence in Tallahassee makes this training possible all over and this week it’s in Fort Pierce.

“I was on several cases that were just very special to my heart and I knew that this would be a calling for me to learn more about this,” said Kara Kempf, RN.

Kempf has been a nurse for six years and has worked shifts in the emergency room and ICU in St. Lucie and Martin Counties. Now, she wants to help survivor of sex crimes after being inspired by her sister-in-law, who is an advocate.

“She was such a support to these women in the community and I just admire that and want to be able to do that from a nursing perspective,” she said.

Kempf said this care goes beyond a patient’s medical needs; this training can help survivors feel empowered again.

"We can collect evidence for them and it’s proof this happened to you," she said.

Ten years ago, four SANE nurses were shared along the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County.

“You could have a victim waiting six hours for a SANE nurse to come in,” said Barbara Faulkner, Director of Victim Services and Sexual Assault Assistance Program.

Now, there are 40 in our area, with more being trained.

"We’re seeing more and more of a need for it in all counties," Faulkner said.

She said more people have been coming forward ever since.

These advocates say there are about 50 calls a month where they have to physically respond to a hospital to help a victim become a survivor.

“We want them to feel comfortable and know that who’s in the room with them is taking the best care for them,” said Julie Stoyka, Sexual Assault Program Manager.

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