WAUSAU -The Women’s Community in Wausau has named the Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, SANE, program as one of three recipients of its 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Supporting Sexual Assault Victims.

“The SANE nurses at Ascension St. Clare’s work tirelessly to support victims of abuse in our community,” said Jessica Lind, sexual assault victim services program coordinator at the Women’s Community, in an Ascension news release. “They also are community leaders in efforts to educate, develop protocols and hold defendants accountable through precise collection of evidence and court testimony.”

The award was presented on April 16 during a special recognition ceremony held by The Women’s Community during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Operating out of Ascension Saint Clare’s Emergency Department, SANE nurses are registered nurses who have advanced education and clinical preparation to help meet the needs of abuse victims. They are trained to collect and maintain the chain of evidence, provide emotional support and arrange any follow-up support that may be needed.

Ascension St. Clare’s has had its SANE program in place since the hospital opened in 2005. Today, it operates with six nurses who provide 24/7 coverage with advanced training in pediatric cases and those involving suspected strangulation, according to Ascension.

In 2018, Ascension St. Clare’s SANE nurses completed 115 exams with suspected victims of abuse. That represents an increase of 34 cases from 2017.

“We are tremendously proud of our SANE program as everyone involved with this effort excel in providing highly specialized clinical care in concert with the care and compassion needed under difficult circumstances,” said Dr. Peter Stamas, Jr., vice president of medical affairs and chief administrative officer at Ascension St. Clare’s.

Photo courtesy Ascension. Pictured are Jane Graham Jennings, executive director, The Women’s Community; from left; Peter Stamas, Jr., M.D., vice president of medical affairs and chief administrative officer, Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital; Jessica Lind, sexual assault victim services program coordinator, The Women’s Community; Tracy Fremming, R.N, lead nurse and SANE coordinator, Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital; Sheila Hulce-Ditman, director of emergency services, Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital; Joann Weinfurter, RN, vice president of patient care services, Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital; Tina Stephanus, RN, SANE nurse, Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital; Patti Shafto-Carlson, director, Foundation of Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital.