For Immediate Release - February 05, 2013


Groundbreaking telemedicine initiative to help health care providers improve assistance to victims of sexual assault

BOSTON – Tuesday, February 5, 2013 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today announced $3.3 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to create the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Telenursing Center, which will be used to enhance care and support for victims of sexual assault nationally.

“Massachusetts is proud to be a national leader in providing the highest quality of care for victims of sexual assault,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “By investing in this new Telenursing Center and medical care services, Massachusetts is leveraging technology to improve public health for victims of sexual assault and ensure a higher quality of care in their healing process.”

Nationally, many frontline health care providers do not routinely provide sexual assault treatment services, and may not be readily familiar with the specific medical, emotional needs of the victims and the forensic needs of the criminal justice system.  As part of today’s announcement, a pilot Telenursing Center will be created at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and will provide 24/7 access to expert medical assistance and consultation for health care providers developed by national expert forensic sexual assault nurse examiners. The grant will provide consultation by the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Telenursing Center for health care providers who work with selected populations in pilot locations around the country.

“The SANE Telenursing Center will allow Massachusetts to share our expertise to help victims across the country,” said John Polanowicz, Secretary of Health and Human Services. “I thank the Obama Administration and our partners in the provider community for their support of this important initiative.”

Grant funding will support several critical components of the pilot, including information technology equipment and assistance at each pilot site, expert clinical staffing, education and technical assistance for pilot participants, and ongoing evaluation of the overall program. Best practices and lessons learned from this national telemedicine pilot project will be later used to inform the development of a National TeleNursing Center.

“This program will allow us to use telemedicine to promote the most effective physical, emotional, and forensic care for sexual assault victims,” said Dr. Lauren Smith, Interim Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH). “We also need to do everything that we can to support the frontline professionals who work with these patients.”

Funding was made available by the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, following a nationally competitive grant application process. A total of $3.3 million will be available over the course of a three-year term. DPH will be the lead agency on this project and Newton-Wellesley Hospital will provide the physical location and infrastructure to support the Center. American Doctors Online/PhoneDOCTORx will provide consultative services and telemedicine network design.

“Newton-Wellesley Hospital is proud to support the Patrick-Murray Administration in its efforts to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive expert, compassionate care," said Erin Miller, coordinator of the domestic violence and sexual assault program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

"This amazing telemedicine pilot will increase access to forensically sound, victim focused services for adolescents immediately following an assault," said Tom King, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Children's Alliance. "Once again, the MA SANE program is leading the national conversation while providing the best course to healing for the most vulnerable citizens of the Commonwealth." 

“All survivors deserve the access to the expertise SANE brings together; forensic evidence collection, nursing, and advocacy," said Gina Scaramella, Executive Director, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). "BARCC is honored to be part of the grant project and we are excited to discover the ways that these components of SANE can come together via technology to help survivors in underserved communities."

DPH has long worked with community partners to improve the quality of medical care for sexual assault victims in Massachusetts. In 1997, DPH created the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, whose core mission is to provide compassionate, comprehensive, and coordinated expert forensic nursing care to patients/victims seeking treatment following a sexual assault. To date, more than 16,000 patients have been treated by a total of 105 trained SANE providers within the state of Massachusetts.

This three-year grant includes three distinct phases of implementation. In the first year, the funded agencies will develop the necessary infrastructure and capabilities to deliver quality telenursing services, and identify partner health care sites that work within the four targeted populations. The second and third years of the grant will be focused on implementation of high-quality telenursing care to those nationwide populations.

More information on the Massachusetts SANE program can be found at More information on the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime can be found at


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