WASHINGTON D.C. - Leah Griffin, of Seattle, is a sexual assault survivor who is turning her own traumatic experience into advocacy.
Inspired by her activism, Sen. Murray chose Griffin to accompany her to President Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.
Griffin was raped in 2014 after someone slipped a drug into her drink at a bar.
Following the attack Griffin went to the nearest emergency room, where she learned that for victims of sexual violence, getting help isn't always easy.
The hospital she walked into told her it was not equipped to treat victim's in her situation.
“Survivors are going to emergency rooms, and being turned away. That's what happened to me, and that's what I'm trying to solve,” said Griffin.
The problem comes from a shortage of nurses who are qualified to administer rape evidence kits.
Across the nation, very few have gone through the training needed to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, called 'SANE' Trained Nurses.
Josilyn Twardoski is a Spokane nurse who has gone through the training, and says it has changed the way she does her job.
"There's a huge difference in how I approach a case now, than how I approached the case before I had the SANE training,” she said.
The Emergency Department at Deaconess hospital, where Twardoski works, has two SANE trained nurses on staff. When they're not working, they're always on call.
Multicare Inland Northwest is currently working on sending five more nurses through the training.
"It's hard enough for people to come in and say what happened to them. So it's nice that here we can take care of it."
Providence Health told KXLY, there is always a SANE trained nurse working.
But across the country, there is no national standard for SANE trained nurses, leading to situations like Griffin experienced where patients are turned away, or sent to different hospitals.
Griffin, together with Sen. Patty Murray, is working on federal legislation that would increase access to quality sexual assault care across the country, and establish a national standard for SANE trained nurses.
About sexual assault care in hospitals:
Not all hospitals provide forensic exams/rape kits. If you are interested in evidence collection, as well as medical care, you must go to a hospital with trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). SANE nurses are specially trained to work with patients who have been sexually assaulted. Important things to know:
- You are not required to make a police report to get a SANE exam.
- There is no charge for a SANE exam.
- You may bring a friend or family member with you.
- Preserving evidence keeps your options open in case you decide to report.
- It is recommended to be treated as soon as possible; evidence is best collected within 120 hours (five days) of the assault.
Information from The UW Medical Center.
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