Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Training
In September, 49 New York City clinicians attended the first New York State Department of Health Accredited Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Training program, sponsored by the Alliance and led by Dr. Donna Gaffney of Seton Hall University. This training was the Alliance's first time offering two days of the SAFE curriculum on-line. The on-line feature makes the SAFE course accessible to many busy clinicians, whose schedule might not otherwise allow them time-enough to complete the training.
The health providers who attended the SAFE course will now move into preceptorships at their respective hospitals, gaining much-needed clinical experience before working independently with victims.
Training more health providers to perform a compassionate, comprehensive, and evidentiary Sexual Assault Forensic Exams is part of the Alliance's strategy to improve NYC's public health response to sexual violence. Making the public aware that specially trained, sensitive clinicians will be available to them if they go to an Emergency Room in the wake of a sexual assault will hopefully mean that more victims pursue much-needed health care. Moreover, training in thorough medical care and the collection of high quality evidence during a sexual assault exam will help to improve the criminal justice response to rape.
The September training is the first of two SAFE trainings the Alliance will sponsor this year. The next training is scheduled for March. Registration forms are available on the Alliance website, at
Other FHP Issues and Priorities
Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Kits:
Many of the city's emergency room's have only limited storage capacity for sexual assault kits. State law requires that hospitals store the kits for a minimum of 30 days, giving victims an opportunity to decide if they want to turn evidence over to the police. However, with the advent of DNA technology, and a 5-year statute of limitations on cases where the rape was committed by a known-perpetrator (10 years for an unknown), both criminal justice and hospital personnel would like to store the kits far longer than 30 days. However, in New York City, space to store the kits is limited. Finding a storage system that serves to optimize criminal justice outcomes will be a topic of focus for FHP in the weeks to come.
The Alliance's FHP is forging ahead with plans for a city-wide forum to discuss how to provide every rape victim in New York City with the best health care services available. Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) programs that have rape crisis counselors provide the highest standard of care to rape victims. However, these programs have sprung up in New York City hospitals in a very non-systematic way, such that certain areas of the city have no SAFE programs, while others have several hospitals with SAFE programs. Therefore, the focus of this policy forum will be on how to implement a citywide infrastructure that ensures every rape victim the highest standard of health care.
The forum will involve representatives from public and private hospitals, leaders from city and state-level law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, city and state-level government officials, as well as SAFE program leaders and Rape Crisis organizers. Details about the policy forum will be made available on this Alliance's website as they emerge.
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