No Sexual Assault Nurses at Community Memorial

Hannah Fuchs

Colgate has long debated the most effective and realistic care for sexually assaulted students at Colgate. Currently, neither Colgate Health Services nor Community Memorial Hospital have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurses available to examine those who have been sexually assaulted. These are nurses who are specially trained over months to do a full examination after a sexual assault in a way that effectively obtains and upholds evidence in court if the case is brought to trial. Instead, sexually assaulted persons at Colgate are taken to Oneida Healthcare Center, 30 minutes away, where there are five SANE nurses on call.

Director of Health Services Dr. Merrill Miller describes the multiple challenges in hiring SANE nurses, which have prevented Colgate from doing so despite calls for local care of sexually assaulted persons.

“Health Services and the Colgate administration has talked about getting a SANE nurse at Hamilton or one in affiliation with other hospitals, but it is not feasible for us right now,” Miller said. “There are a small number of cases each year, and since the SANE nurses must perform a certain number of cases a year to remain certified, they would lose their certification. Additionally, we would need to employ and train multiple SANE nurses, because one nurse cannot be on call 365 days a year.”

Miller says that Community Memorial Hospital sees fewer than five sexual assault cases a year, though she does not have the statistics for those who are taken directly to Oneida by the Hamilton Police.

Miller explains that at this time, Oneida is the most practical and safe option for students.

“I want the best for our students and the people in the community who have been sexually assaulted,” Dr. Miller said. “We want to make sure they get the right care from the right person, and we work to make sure the student will obtain this care. Campus Safety will transport the student to Oneida, and the student does not have to file a report with Campus Safety.”

If the student does not want a legal rape examination, there are steps that can be taken at Community Memorial Hospital, such as tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the Colgate Counseling Center will accompany a student to Oneida for a proper assessment.

Contact Hannah Fuchs at [email protected]