SANE room provides safe space for survivors of sexual assault

As a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), Resi Willis was well prepared to care for a survivor of sexual assault who came to Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Emergency Department in 2015. Through the experience, she found the greatest challenge to be the physical space. Because of the layout and location of the treatment room, she had difficulty controlling the flow of people into the safe space that she was trying to create.

In response, Resi proposed creating a designated SANE room that would allow survivors safety and dignity as they are treated following a traumatic event.

“The space is not only important for patients, it also is important for our doctors and nurses because caring for survivors of sexual assault is a very involved and stressful process,” said Kate Lawler director of the violence prevention program at Swedish Covenant Hospital. “Having all of the resources in one place is very beneficial to creating a seamless process.”

The Hospital’s recent Emergency Department renovation provided an opportunity for administration and staff to improve the treatment space for survivors of sexual assault. In winter 2017, a new SANE room opened with the completion of phase two of the Emergency Department renovation. The new room has a private bathroom and shower, and is designed to provide a calm and comfortable space for both patients and staff. The new space also includes ample storage for items including evidence collection kits and clothing, which is often provided to patients after their clothes are collected for evidence.

A generous donation by corporate partner, Rust-Oleum, is allowing Swedish Covenant Hospital to further furnish the SANE room. Funds will enable the hospital to equip the room with seating that will allow a nurse or an advocate to sit and talk with the patient in a more humanizing way.

In addition to the donation, 12 staff from Rust-Oleum visited Swedish Covenant Hospital in February for their “Day of Caring.” Through this event, volunteers learned more about the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, created artwork for the SANE room, and sorted toiletry donations for care packages for survivors of sexual assault.

Rust-Oleum employees created artwork for the SANE room during their “Day of Caring.”

“Rust-Oleum’s contribution of time, creativity and funds have helped us to create the humanizing and comfortable space that we want for one of the most difficult situations that a patient and nurse can find themselves in in a hospital setting,” Kate said.

Swedish Covenant Hospital sees approximately 1-2 cases of sexual assault per week in the Emergency Department – or a total of 60-70 per year. There are 12 SANE-trained nurses in the Emergency Department. SANE nurses receive 40 hours of specialized training in the medical forensic care of the patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

To learn more about the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, visit the website or contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

About Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation

Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation works to inspire charitable giving through philanthropic partnerships with those in our community who want to make a real difference. We fulfill our health care mission through the generosity of our friends, neighbors and business leaders who care about the community and the health of those who live here.

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