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thedacare nurse becomes SANE-A certified
April 1, 2021

ThedaCare Nurse Becomes SANE-A Certified

Continuing Expertise in Compassionate Care for Sexual Assault Survivors

APPLETON, Wis. – ThedaCare Clinical Program Specialist for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, Leah Eckhart RN, BSN, has recently become SANE-A certified. Eckhart is now one of just 40 SANE nurses in the state to earn this adult-adolescent certification and can use her training to provide expert and compassionate care for adult and adolescent survivors of sexual assault.

Supported by the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, the ThedaCare SANE program launched in 2016. All of the nurses in the program are SANE-trained, having completed a 40-hour training offered by the Department of Justice. In addition to completing this training, to become SANE-A Certified, Eckhart was required to submit at least 300 hours of patient care experience and complete a board exam.

“When we see our patients, our teams understand that this is a vulnerable time for them, and we are dedicated to ensuring their health and safety, while providing all the support we can,” said Eckhart. “No two cases are the same. That is a reason our training is critical. It allows team members to feel confident in their skills.”

In spring 2020, ThedaCare Family of Foundations was awarded funding for the SANE Program from Kimberly-Clark to help support education costs for new nurses to become trained in both adult/adolescent and pediatric forensic examination, providing the foundation of skills needed to make sexual assault exams in our community possible. Eckhart received support from the funding to fulfill the SANE-A certification testing fee. She prepared for months for the written exam in 2020, before receiving her certification in November.

“When we see patients, it is often during their worst times, and our hearts are with them,” said Eckhart. “In every situation, we strive to put the person first, taking care of them with dignity and respect. From a caregiver perspective, it can be difficult to prepare a potential nurse for the things they’ll see and hear in this line of work. The ongoing education is extremely important to continue investing in these team members to protect their own health and wellbeing.”

Eckhart explained the program offers unbiased, objective collection of evidence and information for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, strangulation, child abuse and neglect and other crimes. Nurses follow appropriate forensic procedures to arm law enforcement with evidence if it becomes necessary for a court case.

“How you treat people in the midst of one of the worst experiences of their lives can help them begin to heal,” she said. “We feel fortunate to have the necessary training to help them, not only with medical care, with emotional support as well.”

She explained the relationships and collaborations with other local organizations that share the same goals, such as sexual assault crisis centers, is an important part of her role.  

“I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with new police officers and explain my role as a SANE nurse,” said Eckhart. “We discuss training, and ways that we can partner together to comfort patients and families.” 

Eckhart added that this next layer of adult-adolescent certification could lead to several benefits in our community. And she looks forward to the continued growth of the program to better serve Northeast and Central Wisconsin.

“We want people to know that we are here to provide the care they need,” she explained. “We want to offer a first breath of hope to move towards healing. That’s why we do what we do.”

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

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care

Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.

For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care

Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.

For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.

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