Santa Clara County plans to expand access to sexual assault exams by adding a new location for survivors to undergo the procedures at Stanford Hospital.
According to county officials, Stanford Health Care has signed a letter of intent to host the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) team and rape crisis advocates at the emergency department stating in 2020.
The expanded services come as the county grapples with a 58 percent uptick in the number of reported sexual assault from 2015 to 2018.
Currently, the only place for survivors to undergo the time-consuming and invasive exams is at San Jose’s Valley Medical Center.
“For people who have already been traumatized, asking them to go to a remote location that is unfamiliar, away from friends, family, and home in their own community, I just think that further aggravates the trauma,” Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian, who pushed for a response location in North County, said in a press release Monday. “I’m hopeful that having a SAFE site here in a more familiar environment, closer to home, can lessen some of that trauma.”
The new North County location, which is expected to open in February, will operate 24 hours a day and keep specially trained nurses on call to perform the exams.
Stanford Health Care President David Entwistle praised the partnership as a way to deliver more compassionate care to assault victims.
“We’re proud to make this important service available to our surrounding community, which will help patients obtain this essential care more easily,” he said.
Expanding sexual assault exams to North County is one of several steps the county has taken this past year to improve service for survivors. In recent months, the county authorized additional funding to support the YWCA and Community Solutions, which run the South Bay’s only two rape crisis centers.
“It is heartening to see that in Santa Clara County, we have leaders who are responsive to addressing gaps in critical services for survivors of violence, and that we have strong partnerships to then deliver on those service gaps,” Tanis Crosby, CEO of YWCA Silicon Valley, said in the county press release.