Orangeburg’s Regional Medical Center receives ‘SAFE’ designation for sexual assault victims

The Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg received a special designation that aims to better help survivors of sexual assault in the state.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 2:57 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:24 PM EST
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCSC) - The Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg received a special designation that aims to better help survivors of sexual assault in the state.

The Regional Medical Center now has a level two Sexual Assault Forensic Excellence, or SAFE, designation, according to hospital leaders. It’s the fifth hospital system in the state to receive that classification.

The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, or SCVAN, presented the hospital with the designation in a ceremony Thursday.

In order to receive the SAFE classification, hospitals, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, advocacy organizations and other groups either have to have employees who have undergone specific training, such as evidence preservation and trauma informed care, or have partnerships with those that do.

“The last thing we want is for [victims] to go and then be turned away or for the evidence to be lost,” Amanda Brown with SCVAN says. “We really want to make sure that these victims have that trauma-informed approach, that [medical staff] have a basic understanding of how to care for these victims, and that in the event that they do not have these facilities or services available, that they know how to provide the services in the interim until they can get them where they need to go.”

Level 2 SAFE designation means the hospital can see adolescents sexual assault victims who are about 12 or 13 and older, as well as adults, according to Brown.

The Regional Medical Center’s new SAFE designation comes after four of the nurses in the emergency department earned their Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, certificates, hospital leaders say. Now the hospital will have six SANE nurses with special training to provide care for sexual assault survivors, including conducting the forensic exams and testifying in court.

Crissy Brooks is one of the new SANE nurses at the Regional Medical Center.

“I think this community needs this service,” she says. “Our county is huge; we have a huge service area. To be able to offer this specialized care to victims, to their families, to the community is just a huge, huge, huge asset.”

There are now about 25 SAFE designated facilities in South Carolina out of about 70 free-standing and acute care ER’s, according to SCVAN.