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Illinois Lawmakers Look To Improve Hospital Care For Victims Of Sexual Assault

Martha Dominguez on Unsplash

Lawmakers advanced a measure Tuesday that would require Illinois hospitals to have nurses on staff who can provide specialized care to victims of sexual assault, including children.

The measure would require Illinois hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who can treat and examine victims, on their staff within five years.


Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said trained nurse examiners can cut the amount of time a victim has to spend in the emergency room in half and make sure proper procedures are followed.

“We need the hospital personnel to have the specialized training to make sure that that is the best evidence collection,” Poskin said, which aids in prosecuting perpetrators of assault.

Out of nearly 200,000 registered nurses in the state, only about 30 are certified to work with adult sexual assault victims, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Even fewer are certified to treat children.

State Rep. Michael Unes, R-Peoria, who sponsored the proposal, said it will ensure children get the care they need without long waits or unnecessary additional trauma.

“This most vulnerable population that has been through unthinkable trauma deserves to have the most qualified professionals be able to see that child,” he said.

In order for nurses to become certified, they must complete 40 hours of classroom instruction followed by clinical training.

The measure could get a vote in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Mary works as an intern for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. She is currently a student in the Public Affairs Reporting master's degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield and will graduate in May 2018. Prior to coming to Springfield, Mary worked as the Editorial Intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University where she served as the school newspaper's news editor and editorial writer. Mary is from Naperville, Ill., and attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
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