04/21/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/22/2021 13:18
Immediately following a sexual assault, many survivors do not know exactly what they need to do, what care they need, where to go for help, or what services are available. That's where our virtual care team comes in. Our virtual care team is available 24/7 to help guide a survivor through the next steps, establish a timeline for treatment, and connect them with the right resources, no matter what time of day. For instance, our providers can help someone determine whether they should go to the hospital for a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examination) exam, in which forensic evidence is collected, or come in for an in-office visit with their primary care provider. They can also explain what the SANE exam entails, point someone towards the right hospital to obtain these services, and even call the hospital ahead of time to let them know a patient is on the way. Likewise, if someone chooses to forgo a SANE exam, we can prescribe time sensitive medications right away and help a survivor book the next available in-office visit in order to get any additional medical care they need as soon as possible.
Both our in-office and virtual care teams can also help with sexually transmitted infection (STI) and pregnancy prevention. As a number of STIs -with gonorrhea and chlamydia being the most commonly diagnosed - can be contracted through sexual assault, our providers will develop a care plan tailored to a survivor's personal risk level. Depending on the type of sexual contact that occurred, this may include STI testing, prescription of preventative medications like antibiotics or prophylaxis, or treatment of an infection itself. Likewise, we can discuss and prescribe various emergency contraception forms if a survivor is at risk of pregnancy. We know that sexual assault can occur at any moment and that time is of the essence when it comes to STI and pregnancy prevention, so we'll even fill these prescriptions via the app if needed.
We can also treat a wide variety of physical injuries following sexual assault. In addition to injuries resulting from the sexual contact itself, survivors may present with scratches, cuts, bruises, sprains, or other physical trauma, due to being restrained, strangled, or otherwise incapacitated in some way. Sexual assault survivors often feel vulnerable and violated after an attack, so our providers approach these exams with the goal of helping patients regain a sense of control over their own bodies. We know physical exams can be retraumatizing for sexual assault survivors, so we'll ask permission before every part of an examination and explain what we are doing every step of the way. We want our patients to feel safe under our care, so we'll also stop the exam at any point upon request.