Health center expands care for sexual assault survivors

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Health center expands care for sexual assault survivors

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The University Health Center now offers Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner services, which increases access to evidence collection for student survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

The exams provide care after an assault and involve collecting evidence for preservation in the event a student chooses now or later to involve law enforcement. This exam is sometimes commonly referred to as a rape kit or sexual assault evidence kit. Medical treatment, such as testing for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, is available even if a student chooses not to have an exam.

Evidence may be collected up to 120 hours (five days) after the event, but medical care is available anytime following an assault. Students must be 18 years or older and without serious injury to consent to an exam. Visits with the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner are confidential.

SANE services at the health center are provided by Bethany Berg, PA-C. She is a Nebraska Medicine certified physician assistant and has worked at the University Health Center for more than six years. She completed the SANE training because she believes in survivors and wanted to bring this important service to campus.

“During my time at UNL, I have had the privilege to care for sexual assault survivors,” Berg says. “The courage I have seen when they seek medical care drove me to find a way to become a safe place for them. As a SANE, I can provide full services that sexual assault survivors would need without having to go to an overwhelming and busy emergency room."

Sexual assault exams are offered during business hours. To receive an exam, students should call 402-472-5000 before arriving at the health center so staff can advise and prepare prior to a visit. When the health center is closed or appointments are unavailable, students can receive an exam anytime 24/7 at local hospitals. The nearest emergency room to campus is Bryan West at 2300 S. 16th St.

These exams and medical care for sexual assaults are covered by grants and are offered at no cost to currently enrolled students. However, certain medications prescribed during the visit may have a charge.

The health center is partnering with several different campus departments as this new service rolls out, including University Police and the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education. These groups can refer students to the health center for an exam if a student expresses interest.

Melissa Wilkerson, interim director of CARE, said her team is excited to see SANE services added to the university’s breadth of victim advocacy resources.

“The addition of this resource, right here on our campus, is a wonderful and confidential option for our students who need to seek these services,” Wilkerson said. “I’ve worked with Bethany a number of times over the past year and know that she will provide excellent, trauma-informed care as she works with our students during what can be a very overwhelming experience.”

Visit the University Health Center website for more information about SANE services, additional resources, and a list of frequently asked questions.

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