Miscommunication led to false SANE nurse report

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November 2, 2016

9:41 PM

Members of the Student Assembly Executive Branch, the City of Williamsburg government and The Flat Hat were caught off guard late last month as the news of a 24/7 in-house full-time Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at the Riverside Doctor’s Hospital in Williamsburg turned out to be false. The false reports — which included emails from City Manager Marvin Collins, an announcement from SA Vice President Hannah McKiernan Sept. 27 and a Flat Hat article printed the same day — seem to have stemmed from a miscommunication involving an email sent from Collins to SA President Eboni Brown ’17.

“On behalf of City Council, I am honored to provide the following issue update (below and attached) from Fire Chief Pat Dent regarding a priority issue of the Student Assembly regarding the availability of SANE nursing services in Williamsburg,” Collins said in a Sept. 27 email. “As reported below and attached by Riverside Health Systems, SANE forensic nursing services are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Riverside Doctor’s Hospital in the City of Williamsburg. The Fire Chief also reports that the EMS services of the City of Williamsburg have established protocols to transport patients in need of forensic nursing services to Riverside Doctor’s Hospital.”

Collins, in the email, was referring to a mobile unit of SANE nurses based in Newport News, not a local SANE nurse. SA Secretary of Public Affairs Jakob Stalnaker ’16, J.D. ’19 said that because the existence of a mobile unit was already known to SA, he understood Collins’ email to mean that a 24/7 in-house SANE nurse was now available.

“I interpreted the statement … to mean that there was a SANE forensic nurse at Riverside Doctors Hospital,” Stalnaker said. “I believed that since we had mentioned the mobile unit in our meeting with the Mayor, the update reflected a different policy than the presence of that unit. The misunderstanding of the change in policy was then reflected in our statements to the Senate and the Flat Hat. Our intent was never to provide false information or leave anyone out of the process.”

Oct. 20, The Haven and the Horizon advisory boards issued a statement on Facebook clarifying that there was no 24/7 in-house SANE nurse located in Williamsburg. The same night, SA also published a statement acknowledging that their announcement had been in error. The following day, The Flat Hat retracted the Sept. 27 article and issued a statement from Editor-in-Chief Tucker Higgins ’17.

Oct. 25, after The Flat Hat, The Haven and SA published statements on Facebook, Assistant to the President Michael Fox facilitated a meeting between Forensic Nurse Examiner Program Coordinator for Riverside Regional Medical Center Beth Walters, representatives from The Flat Hat, the Haven, SA and 16(IX)3, a campus-based sexual assault prevention organization. After the meeting, McKiernan said they SA had plans to work with H.O.P.E., 16(IX)3 and the Haven to produce an infographic about the current state of forensic nursing services in Williamsburg.

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About Author

Sarah Smith

News Editor Sarah Smith '19 is an international relations and gender, sexuality, and women's studies major from Ashburn, VA. She formerly served as Associate News Editor.