Reports of sexual assault victims not being received properly at the Colchester East Hants Health Authority is clear evidence the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program is needed in Truro, officials say.
“My position is, we need one in Truro and we need it now,” said Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River MLA Lenore Zann.
According the Nova Scotia Health Authority, a SANE is a registered nurse who has completed specialized educational and clinical preparation to provide care, gather forensic evidence and give expert testimony after a sexual assault occurs.
SANE programs are currently operating in Halifax, Dartmouth, Lower Sackville, Antigonish, New Glasgow, the Port Hawkesbury area and Yarmouth.
The provincial government also recently announced additional sites to be added in Cape Breton this month, and later, for the Aannapolis Valley and South Shore.
But Zann said with Truro being the hub of the province and given recent reports of women who said they had traumatic experiences when they went to the CEHHC to report having been sexually assaulted, there’s more than enough evidence to argue SANE should be expanded to Truro.
“They are extending them to Cape Breton but no talk of extending them to Truro and here we are in central Nova Scotia and the closest one to us is Antigonish or New Glasgow,” she said.
That gap in services was also addressed by Tracy Dorrington-Skinner, executive director of the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre, and Kendra MacKinnon executive director of the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre (CSAC), in a joint news release issued Friday.
“Over the past several years the CSAC has had numerous meetings and conversations with other community service providers, concerned citizens and members of government regarding the lack of this essential health service in the Colchester-Central region,” the release said.
It went on to say CSAC has collaborated with the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre’s Executive Director and SANE personnel to establish a viable budget, proposal and protocol to address the lack of essential service for anyone who’s experienced sexualized violence or trauma to access.
“However, the CSAC must have and needs government support in order to implement this and put it into action."
The Nova Scotia Department of Health hired a provincial coordinator for the SANE program about a year ago and Dorrington-Skinner and MacKinnon said it is their understanding and hope the move would be the starting point for initiating the service to all underserviced regions.
“Addressing this serious concern and gap requires the collaborative work of several organizations and government and we will continue to do what we can to establish a much-needed SANE program and protocol," the release said.