UAMS Launches Sexual Assault Assessment Program in Arkansas Hospitals, Crisis Centers

By Karmen Robinson

Through real-time video technology, UAMS will partner with emergency departments and crisis centers in rural and underserved communities to provide trauma-informed, patient-centered care to patients who have experienced sexual violence. Local clinicians are virtually connected with experienced Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE) or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). Together, clinicians provide medical-forensic sexual assault examinations at no cost to the patient.

“This new digital health program increases accessibility to expert resources and allows us to provide victims with the care and support they need,” said institute director Joseph Sanford, M.D. “By expanding our reach, we can help more victims and also provide assistance to law enforcement as needed.”

UAMS SANE assistant director Sherrie Searcy, RN, BSN, SANE-A, added, “This program ensures patients have access to expert care, regardless of where they live.”

Arkansas is one of four demonstration sites in the country to receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime to establish digital health sexual assault services that will improve care, access and quality of sexual assault forensic exams. The other three sites are Alaska, South Dakota and Texas.

Various UAMS digital health programs and rural sites have collaborated to implement the TeleSAFE/TeleSANE program, which will also include activities and outreach opportunities to educate their respective communities on sexual assault.

NWA Center for Sexual Assault in Springdale and Drew Memorial Health System in Monticello are the first TeleSANE collaborating locations that, as of today, now offer the extension of digital health services for sexual assault care in their communities. UAMS is prepared to serve an additional 71 locations throughout the state of Arkansas to ensure victims of sexual assault have access to expert care and resources.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.