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WellSpan Ephrata offers specially trained staff to treat sexual assault victims

July 11, 2019


These WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital nurses have been trained as sexual assault forensic examiners.

These WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital nurses have been trained as sexual assault forensic examiners.

WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital has launched a sexual assault forensic nurse examiner (SAFE) program to care for and treat local victims of sexual assault.

Nurse examiners on the team have undergone 54 hours of specialized training. The team is trained to conduct a medical forensic examination of victims, collecting and documenting evidence, and to serve as expert witnesses in any resulting legal proceedings. The examiners collaborate with law enforcement officials and counselors to provide coordinated care to victims.

Training includes sessions with live actors, who teach the examiners how to approach and treat sexual assault victims.

 “Our goal is to provide compassionate care that recognizes the full range of trauma experienced by sexual assault victims,” said Vanessa Smith, Emergency Department Clinical Lead and Coordinator of the SAFE program at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital. “We not only document the physical and medical effects of the assault, we also help the victim to obtain counseling, emotional support and appropriate follow-up care.”

SAFE nurses will be available around-the-clock in the WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital emergency department. Similar programs also operate at other WellSpan hospitals in Adams, Lebanon and York counties.

The program was funded by $83,000 in support from the Ephrata Community Health Foundation, through gifts from community donors and WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital physicians and staff. The Ephrata Community Health Foundation is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire gifts and grants to support the health and well-being of northern Lancaster County residents.

About WellSpan Health

WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization is comprised of approximately 1,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a regional behavioral health organization, a home care organization, eight respected hospitals, more than 19,000 employees, and more than 170 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities.

Media Contact: Cindy Stauffer, 717-733-6203 or