Lexington Medical Center Begins New Commitment to Help Sexual Assault Victims

West Columbia, SC – Lexington Medical Center is pleased to announce its participation in the new Lexington County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Established in August, the Lexington County SART team represents a collaboration of county health care workers, law enforcement officers and sexual assault prevention advocates working together to help sexual assault victims receive the help they need in the best way possible.

Lexington Medical Center will discuss the details of this new commitment at a news conference on Wednesday, September 29th, at 2 p.m., inside the Lexington Medical Park 1 auditorium on the hospital campus in West Columbia. The community is invited to attend

Lexington Medical Center’s participation in the program guarantees that when a victim of sexual assault comes to the hospital’s Emergency Department, the victim will be examined by a Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE), a nurse who has special training in the collection of forensic and physical evidence in cases of sexual assault. The Forensic Nurse Examiner will be a member of the SART team. In addition to the Forensic Nurse Examiner, a counselor from Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands and law enforcement officers will arrive.

Forensic Nurse Examiners are considered experts in their field and in courtroom testimony during sexual assault hearings and trials. And, according to Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, cases with FNE nurses have an 80% guilty plea rate by attackers, demonstrating the important impact of a FNE nurse’s evidence collection and testimony.

As part of the program, Lexington Medical Center will also hire one full time Forensic Nurse Examiner to work at our hospital and be available to be dispatched to examine sexual assault victims at other hospitals in the Midlands when needed through the SART program.

“This is an outstanding example of many agencies coming together to benefit the citizens of our collective community,” said Barbara Willm, vice president of Community Outreach at Lexington Medical Center. “This program insures that all victims will receive the same standard of care and that care will begin at the earliest possible time.”

Statistics from Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands show that there were 236 reported sexual assaults in Lexington, Newberry and Richland Counties in 2009. Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands responded to 97 calls of sexual assault victims brought to Lexington Medical Center in fiscal year 2009. In addition, Lexington Medical Center operates the second busiest Emergency Department in South Carolina, treating more than 90,000 patients each year.

News reporters who will cover the news conference at the hospital should contact Jennifer Wilson, Lexington Medical Center Public Relations Manager, at 803-939-4512. News conference speakers will include Barbara Willm, Lexington Medical Center Vice President of Community Relations; Ginny Waller, executive director of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands; Terry Casto, Director of the Regional FNE Program and Lexington County Sheriff James Metts. A brief reception will follow.

Lexington Medical Center is pleased to announce its participation in the new Lexington County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), formerly named Rape Crisis Network, is a private, nonprofit, United Way member agency committed to providing free, direct services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse, including 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital accompaniment, court accompaniment, personal advocacy, individual and group counseling, and education about sexual trauma issues.