From The Desk Of Darlene J. Harris – Becoming a SANE by Lori Hirsch

Greetings Everyone,

First I want to thank the writers who provided articles during April. It was exciting to have a plethora of information during the Education and Prevention Month for Sexual Assault and Child Abuse month.

I take pleasure in introducing our next writer. Mrs. Lori L. Hirsch. She is a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner). The article will give you insight into what this member of the (SART) Sexual Assault Response Team responsibilities include.

The SART includes law enforcement officer/ District Attorney’s Office, a representative from a Crisis Prevention Center and SANE. This team is responsible for assuring the medical, legal and comfort of the survivor is met during the examination. I’ve attended many examinations and I thought this would provide you with information you don’t really hear about unless you’ve been a victim or know someone who has. The examination is invasive and the questions asked of the victim are almost like reliving the crime.

We know you will be more informed after reading this article. If you have any questions please include your comments/questions to me at

Becoming a SANE

I currently serve as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for The Chattahoochee Georgia Circuit.

By Lori L. Hirsch, RN, PHN Specialist, SANE

My husband, Brian came home one evening and proceeded to tell me about a woman he had met in the building where his CPA firm is located. He gave this woman some help taking cases of sodas from her car into her place of business. She asked him if he would like a tour of the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). She introduced herself as the assistant coordinator and forensic interviewer. He was interested enough to take the tour and have a brief discussion of what the CAC encompasses. Brian said that she had asked him if he knew of a Nurse that would be interested in a part time job performing forensic exams on children. I definitely wanted to know more so I told him to give her my cell number and within a couple of days she called and we talked for hours. It was as if I had been reunited with an old friend and then within a couple of months, I found myself in Pennsylvania training to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE).

The training was intense as we learned the examination procedures for adult and pediatric victims. The training lasted two weeks and I felt as though I was in a deep, dark, pit of despair. After the long days of listening and looking at the horrible abuse inflicted on adults and children, I wasn’t sure if I was cut out to do this job. It was a scary place to be so far away from family and home. As Nurses we tend to learn how to laugh away our fears and our feelings but I couldn’t this time and I had no outlet. I was still determined to finish, go home and face what I had started. “I will finish this” is what I had to keep saying to myself but in my thoughts there was doubt that I could take this job. I couldn’t sleep for the nightmares and I was afraid for my children, grandchildren and even myself. Fear was all consuming and I had to find a way to get past it.

At the end of the training our teacher shared her story with the class. She was a victim of abuse herself and she opened the floor for all of us to share our stories. We learned a valuable lesson on that last day of class since most SANE’s have been victims of abuse and find healing in helping others. This is also true of many in the Nursing field. Nurses are usually survivors and very strong advocates for their patients because they have walked in their shoes.

It took almost a year to get the CAC (Child Advocacy Center) up and running with Telemedicine and all the equipment we needed along with the legal aspect in order for us to function. The day finally arrived when we started seeing patients and then I realized why I had such a grueling training. A SANE candidate has to complete time and check offs with all disciplines such as, Law enforcement, District Attorney’s office, Court Room Time, Rape Crises Center, and you must have many physical exams completed to be able to perform independently. Every SANE must have a Medical Director and a protocol to follow. After you have been a practicing SANE for a number of years you can sit for certification of SANE-A and/or SANE-P (adult and/or pediatric) There is a huge difference in the exams that we perform on pediatric patients compared to adolescent or adults. A SANE must not only know nursing implications for the collection of evidence, the SANE must also know the law as it applies to her patient and to the evidence collected whether it be physical, photographic or verbal. Oh, I forgot to mention, you must be a good photographer too, as pictures are required throughout the examination.

Working with The Department of Family and Children Service’s, the Police, the Sheriff’s Dept., GBI, JAG, forensic specialists, and many more acronyms, can be as exciting as an episode of CSI but in reality, it’s not. It’s very real with real families in crisis that need immediate attention and when all these disciplines work together, it’s amazing how fast the family can get help. I love being a part of this healing machine called Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). All the different departments from law enforcement to the medical personnel come together and follow the cases put before us to ensure that the victim, family and perpetrator are all receiving care, counseling and justice.


Lori Ortiz Hirsch, RN PHN Specialist, SANE is the Children 1st Coordinator for the West Central Health District – 7 in Columbus. She has dedicated her entire career to family advocacy with special interest in Maternal and Child Health. She has practiced in Nursing Homes, Home Health, Hospital Neonatal & Post Partum Care and Public Health Nursing. Hirsch holds a current PRN position as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for The Children’s Treehouse Child Advocacy Center which serves the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit (six counties). Hirsch provides ongoing leadership, developmental /program training and support to the 16 counties of the WCHD. She serves as the “Single Point of Contact” and assures full implementation of identification and screening of all births and assessment, linkage/referral and monitoring of children determined to be at risk for poor health and developmental outcomes. Hirsch is currently an adviser for the Muscogee County ECSOC & Home Visiting Program, Zero to Three Task Force and Family Connections Collaborative for the 16 Counties she serves and is currently serving as a Board Member of The Enrichment Services Policy Council, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Chattahoochee Circuit, and The Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Child Abuse Protocol Committee. Hirsch also served on the Children 1st State Restructure SendSS Technology Committee and State Task Force Committee for Children 1st. Educated at Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Phenix City, Ala. Hirsch received her Nurse Specialist after attending Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, GA.

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