San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 22nd, 2009
SANE nurses get forensic equipment

11hayscwwcFront row from left to right:  CTMC SANE Moira Foley, Janie Mott and Jan Stark, CTMC Chief Nursing Officer Lana Cameron. Back row from left to right:  Hays County Deputy Sheriff Mike Thielen, Michael Plankers (CTMC), HCWC Executive Director Marla Johnson, HCWC staff Katharine Collier and Kelsey Banton, Grande Communications Passion and Commitment Club members Molly Ann Rosas-Gary and Anna Mercado, Hays County District Attorneys Office’s Sherry Tibbe, HCWC board member Diann McCabe,  HCWC HEARTeam Volunteer Tracey Reynolds, HCWC HEARTeam Volunteer Beverly Engel, HCWC Staffer Elva Gonzalez and San Marcos Policeman Howard E. Williams.

STAFF REPORT

Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) recently received forensic camera equipment, presented to CTMC’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) on Dec. 17 at the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center.

The gift was made possible by Grande Communications employees, the Hays District Attorney’s office, the San Marcos Police Department, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center staff, volunteers and board members.

For years, CTMC’s SANE nurses, who provide forensic evidence exams for men and women who have recently been sexually assaulted, have been working without essential forensic equipment. Instead of being able to take the forensic photographs that can be used as evidence, SANE nurses had been limited to hand drawing evidence that they could see with the naked eye.

Having the camera to document physical evidence allows the nurses to gather evidence more efficiently and may also be used to gather evidence that they are unable to see without the use of a camera with magnification. The camera enables the SANE nurses to give appropriate and thorough forensic exams. An exam of this type can mean the difference between the prosecution of an offender and letting one walk for lack of evidence.

SANE Nurse Moira Foley said, “The gift of this equipment will enhance the collection
of evidence for all sexual assault cases. With photo-documentation, the nurse gains the ability to preserve what he/she observes firsthand at the time of the exam. This unbiased documentation the ability to capture the full extent of injury while simultaneously preserving the patient’s dignity. The improved technology will allow the patient to leave the Emergency Department in a more timely manner, thus allowing physical and emotional healing to begin after this life-altering traumatic event.”

Costing almost $5,000, the SANE forensic camera equipment was partly purchased with a grant from the Passion and Commitment Club at Grande Communications, whose employees voluntarily contribute a portion of their wages toward worthy causes. That $2,000 was awarded to the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center and the Hays-Caldwell Sexual Assault Task Force on May 1.

Since that time, members of the task force worked to collect the remaining $3000 in donations. Thanks to community partners, the task force was able to present the nurses with the equipment.

The Hays-Calwell Sexual Assault Task Force consists of professionals working to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of sexual assault. This group, consisting of trained professionals from law enforcement, prosecution, the medical field, and victims services has, during the last 15 years, met regularly to insure that Hays and Caldwell Counties have a coordinated response plan in place when sexual assault occurs.

The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center has served local victims of abuse, including family violence and sexual assault, for more than 30 years. The services are free and confidential. Additional information can be obtained at www.hcwc.org or by calling (512) 396-HELP.

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