Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault

Report date
August 2017

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

We found collaboration to be incredibly important for this grant. By fostering a strong connection with the Hibbing Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, we have created a community of forensic nurses in northeastern Minnesota who can support one another. We have been meeting collaboratively with Hibbing SANE and PAVSA SANE on a quarterly basis since 2015. Both communities have taken turns hosting meetings. The Community Innovation grant has allowed us to help Hibbing SANE cover their costs to travel to our meetings, where both programs benefit from one another's expertise. Our joint meetings have also allowed PAVSA SANE to prepare in-depth clinical case reviews that the Hibbing SANEs participate in. This is a great continuing education opportunity that allows Hibbing SANEs to access more exposure to diverse cases and best practice techniques for charting, photography, and evidence collection. Our grant has also made it possible to extend advanced training opportunities to Hibbing SANEs including child sexual abuse, 40 hour adult SANE training, and strangulation.

Key lessons learned

A key lesson learned here was that honesty and clear communication are critical to any collaboration, especially one that brings urban communities to rural communities. Through our listening sessions with stakeholders in northern St. Louis county and subsequent follow-up conversations, we centered the systems professionals from northern St. Louis county as the experts. We listened and learned from their experiences, perspectives, and priorities. We allowed them to lead the direction of this grant and supported their decisions about how best to invest in the sexual assault medical response in their community. We demonstrated flexibility and a willingness to change course when the need arose. This responsiveness allowed intra-community collaboration to occur.

Reflections on the community innovation process

Understanding that community innovation is not linear was incredibly important and helpful to keep in mind. At times it felt like we were having the same conversations over and over again, with different results every time. We struggled to reach consensus and ultimately understood that flexibility and an openness to multiple approaches might, in fact, be a better solution than the one we had anticipated. Allowing ourselves to push reset and "go back to the drawing board" a few times was important. The CI process diagram helped us and our partners to feel supported in doing so.

Progress toward an innovation

We have made significant progress toward developing a regional network of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) in northeastern Minnesota. By fostering joint training opportunities for the personnel of the two existing SANE programs (PAVSA SANE in Duluth and Hibbing SANE), we are maximizing the full potential of these opportunities for all forensic nurses in our region. Strengthening this network and collaboration helps ensure that patients who are seen by a SANE nurse in Duluth or in Hibbing will be met by a professional SANE who has access to the most up to date medical information and best practices. It also allows the lessons that each of our respective programs learns to be shared, raising awareness and exposure to diverse and challenging sexual assault cases. As more nurses opt for SANE training or express an interest in doing so, we are building professional support and access to opportunities that have historically only been available in the Twin Cities metro. We count this network as a strong success and look forward to continuing to foster this collaboration after the grant period has ended.

What's next?

PAVSA SANE plans to continue to meet with Hibbing SANE on a quarterly basis. We will continue to share our resources and training opportunities not only with the Hibbing SANE program, but also with emergency room RNs from Virginia, MN and Ely, MN who express interest in further training for sexual assault exams. We also anticipate hosting a regional summit in Duluth early in 2018 that will bring together experts in sexual assault to provide advanced training to SANEs in northeastern Minnesota. We anticipate a high interest in this summit and have been in communication with the Metro-based Minnesota IAFN (International Association of Forensic Nurses) chapter to collaborate and reach a statewide audience for this summit.

One last thought

This grant has been an evolution from beginning to end. It has been very heartening to know we have the support of staff at Bush in demonstrating flexibility and openness to change through the grant period as new information came to light. We are very appreciative of the support we have received to press on from our grant officer. Thank you for the opportunity to collaborate with our partners in northern St. Louis county. We look forward to continuing these collaborations through the extension of our grant period.