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January 25, 2019


ThedaCare Nurse Will Lead Wisconsin Chapter of Forensic Nurses

January 25, 2019

Photo Caption: Meghan Van Heertum, BSN, RN, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Coordinator at ThedaCare is president-elect of the Wisconsin Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. She was recently certified as one of 19 pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in Wisconsin.


ThedaCare Nurse Will Lead Wisconsin Chapter of Forensic Nurses

APPLETON, Wis. Meghan Van Heertum, BSN, RN, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Coordinator at ThedaCare, recently earned additional certification as a pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner through the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

“I know I’m providing the highest quality care for the people we help,” said Van Heertum. “The care encompasses the latest education models and best practices.” 

Van Heertum manages the SANE program, which is based at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton. More than a dozen specially trained nurses provide expert, trauma-informed, compassionate care to victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse or child abuse. The SANE nurses work in conjunction with law enforcement, advocacy and legal services as needed, to ensure that each person can receive their own plan of care. In 2018, nearly 80 people were treated through ThedaCare’s SANE Program.

Continued education and certification is important to the success of the program. Van Heertum has been a certified SANE nurse for adults and adolescents since 2010. She is now one of only 19 pediatric-certified nurses in Wisconsin and the only one in the Fox Valley. She explained pediatric examinations take on a different dynamic than adult exams and her specialized training helps address the trauma of patients and their families.  

“How you treat young people in the midst of one of the worst experiences of their lives will open or close doors to the possibility of healing,” she said. “We feel fortunate to have the necessary training to help them, not only with medical care, with emotional support as well.”  

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police and only 12 percent of child sexual abuse is reported to law enforcement.

“We want people to know they can come to us, we will take care of them and we can help them get the services they need for healing,” she said.  

ThedaCare’s leadership in treating abuse patients is being recognized in the state. Last month, Van Heertum was elected President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. During her three-year term she will coordinate the association’s annual conference, facilitate recruitment, mentor and educate members and advocate on behalf of sexual assault nurse examiners and abuse survivors.

“It’s a great opportunity to help educate and engage the public around the issue of sexual violence,” said Van Heertum. “We’re a small subspecialty of nursing and it is important people know what we do and ultimately it will help more people.”  

Donors to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations helped enhance the SANE program, leading to the addition of coordinator positions like Van Heertum’s role. Those nurses create a more reliable resource for patients, giving them access to care.

If you or someone you know needs care, please contact staff with the SANE program at 920.738.6300.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.