House unanimously approves Mosbrucker bill toincrease sexual assault nurse examiner training opportunities

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Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives Wednesday unanimously approved a bill by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker that would increase sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) education in rural and underserved areas in Washington state.

“SANE nurses play a critical role in the detailed forensic investigations that are necessary for the prosecution of sex crimes. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of these nurses in hospitals across the state, particularly in rural areas,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, who serves as ranking member of the House Public Safety Committee. “If we don’t have SANE nurses to administer these really difficult, painful and heartbreaking forensic exams on survivors who are brave enough to come forward, then often we lose that forensic evidence, or there may be a mistake in collecting that evidence. When that happens, we can’t get the perpetrator into trial and off the streets.”

House Bill 1622 would require the Washington State University College of Nursing to establish a SANE online and clinical training program and a regional SANE leader pilot program.

“For many years, the only opportunity for SANE training has been through Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Unfortunately, that limited opportunity also comes with many barriers for those willing to get the training, such as the cost, the travel, lodging and time away from their small rural hospitals,” noted Mosbrucker. “However, Washington State University in Pullman now has a beautiful new College of Nursing where access to training will be easier for those who live on the east side of the state. This bill expands SANE training to both sides of the Cascades and also provides for online training so that we can increase the number of SANE nurses and access to their services everywhere in Washington state.”

On the floor of the House early Wednesday evening, Mosbrucker asked lawmakers to support her bill.

“Mr. Speaker, it’s often said that nurses are just angels with stethoscopes. I believe that. And I’m asking tonight for a yes vote to try to help us get more nurses trained on both sides of the state,” said Mosbrucker.

The measure passed the House 97-0. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

House Bill 1622 is one of two SANE-related measures the 14th District lawmaker has authored this year. The other, House Bill 1621, would help to cover fees and costs necessary to become a certified sexual assault nurse examiner.

Under this bill, the state Department of Health (DOH) would establish a stipend program of up to $2,500 per licensed nurse to cover training costs. It also would require DOH to establish a hospital grant program to increase access to certified SANEs for hospitals without sufficient access.

This measure passed the House Health Care and Wellness Committee and is now awaiting a public hearing on Feb. 1 at 3:30 p.m. in the House Appropriations Committee.

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