FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COUNTY PARTNERS WITH STANFORD HOSPITAL TO SERVE SEXUAL-ASSAULT SURVIVORS
SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County is set to expand access to sexual assault exams in the North County by adding a new location at Stanford Hospital. Stanford Health Care has signed a letter of intent to host the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) team and rape crisis advocates to respond to survivors, who seek care after sexual assault, at their Emergency Department starting early next year.
The expanded services are particularly timely given a 58% increase in the number of reported sexual assaults in the County from 2015 to 2018.
"For people who have already been traumatized, asking them to go to a remote location that is unfamiliar, away from friends, family, and home in their own community, I just think that further aggravates the trauma,” said Board President Joe Simitian, who pushed for a response location in the North County. "I’m hopeful that having a SAFE site here in a more familiar environment, closer to home, can lessen some of that trauma."
The new response location will be at the recently opened Stanford Hospital, and will operate 24-hours a day with specially trained SCVMC sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) nurses on-call to perform the exams. It is expected to open in early February 2020. Currently, exams are primarily conducted at Valley Medical Center in San Jose, which will continue to operate as a SAFE site.
“This partnership with Santa Clara County has allowed Stanford Health Care the opportunity to provide a private and supportive setting in our new emergency department where the County’s sexual assault response team can deliver the highest level of compassionate care,” said David Entwistle, President and CEO of Stanford Health Care. “We’re proud to make this important service available to our surrounding community, which will help patients obtain this essential care more easily.”
Over the course of this past year, the County has taken several steps to increase access to sexual assault exams, including:
- Partnering with Stanford Health Care to provide a location for the North County SAFE response, in order to serve North County cities like Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, and others (including the Stanford University campus);
- Working to set up a sexual assault forensic exam site to serve South County residents, also opening soon;
- Increasing the number of full-time staff for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center SAFE program;
- Increasing the number of on-call SAFE nurses staffing the program on nights and weekends, ensuring that it can serve clients quickly and close to home; and,
- Authorizing additional funds to support the YWCA and Community Solutions to expand access to rape crisis advocates.
The County recently authorized additional funds to support the YWCA and Community Solutions – the County’s two rape crisis centers – to expand access to rape crisis advocates to serve clients in the two new SAFE centers in North County and South County. “It is heartening to see that in Santa Clara County, we have leaders who are responsive to addressing gaps in critical services for survivors of violence, and that we have strong partnerships to then deliver on those service gaps,” said Tanis Crosby, CEO of YWCA.
In order to train more nurses in the specialized work of Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams, the County has implemented three new trainings this year. These trainings will allow the County to keep more nurses on-call to serve all three SAFE centers. “The SCVMC SAFE Program has established partnerships with UCSF, SJSU, and the California Clinical Forensic Medical Training Center to develop new opportunities that advance the education of Forensic Nurse Examiners and dramatically shorten the time it takes to train them,” said Kim Walker, Nurse Manager for the Santa Clara County Sexual Assault/Forensic Exam Program.
Valley Medical Center, the local Police Chiefs’ Association, the District Attorney, the Crime Laboratory, and the YWCA and Community Solutions recently signed new shared protocols outlining procedures and cooperation aimed at responding to sexual assault in a coordinated manner that supports the survivor.
The cooperation between the County and Stanford Health Care follows a request by Simitian last fall and agreement by the leadership of Stanford Health Care and Stanford University. “I say thanks to all parties,” said Simitian. “Caring and capable nursing staff from Valley Medical Center, advocates from the YWCA and Community Solutions, local law enforcement and the hosting hospital at Stanford – working in partnership, we are committed to do right by these folks at an acutely painful time in their lives.”