Good Samaritan Medical Center is one of seven hospitals offering the service

BROCKTON — Good Samaritan Medical Center is one of seven hospitals across the state that offers teleconferencing to connect rape survivors with sexual assault nurse examiners. 

The teleSANE program is part of the state Department of Public Health program that trains and certifies sexual assault nurse examiners — also known as SANEs — to work with patients. Instead of providing care in person, nurse examiners use technology to talk to people and nursing staff at the hospital. 

"(SANEs) help people through an incredibly difficult time," said Kenneth Lawson, chief medical officer of Good Samaritan. "It's very beneficial to help our staff take care of people in the right way." 

The teleconferencing service was implemented at the medical center last spring, he said. 

A team of SANEs based at Newton-Wellesley Hospital video conference with nurses and patients at hospitals around the state, including Good Samaritan.

"They're in the room the entire time," said Joan Meunier-Sham, director of the state's SANE program.

The video conferencing equipment doesn't record visits with patients. It's just a way for the nurse examiners to communicate with nurses and the patient.

The technology can connect people who aren't located near a hospital with a sexual assault nurse examiner, said Toni Troop, spokeswoman of Jane Doe Inc., a statewide coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence. 

"It will make a tremendous difference in their care," she said.

During their treatment, survivors can also receive emotional support from a rape crisis advocate, Troop said. Advocates can also help survivors navigate recovery.

Through video conferencing, the goal is to provide patients an expert in treatment and to help hospital treatment and culture to be more trauma-informed, Meunier-Sham said.

Trauma-informed care is about offering patients support and putting them in control to make decisions about their care, she said. 

"It's all about meeting patients where they are," Meunier-Sham said.

About 97 percent of patients statewide have accepted teleSANE services, according to DPH.

Through the program, nurses in teleSANE hospitals receive six hours of training to work with patients who have experienced trauma and how to collect samples.

Nurse examiners are trained to provide care that can include giving patients emergency birth control or medicine for sexually transmitted infections, an exam or collecting samples for a rape kit.

TeleSANE grew out of a pilot program called the National TeleNursing Center Project that the department ran between 2012 and 2018. It connected SANEs to clinicians and patients through video conferencing.

The service was expanded to seven hospitals because of the pilot's success, said Meunier-Sham. DPH is expected to add four more teleSANE hospitals by June.

Staff writer Mina Corpuz can be reached at mcorpuz@enterprisenews.com. Follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz.