Allied Professional Award
Award Recipient: Darlene Rowe, Director, Evangelical Community Hospital Emergency Department
Nominator: Susan Mathias, Chief Executive Officer, Transitions
In the early 1990’s, when other states were beginning to develop programs for training hospital staff and other professionals in best practices for assisting rape victims, Ms. Darlene Rowe spearheaded the movement at the Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for the development of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program. Ms. Rowe was the guiding light in the formation of the first SANE program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1994, which continues to serve today. SANE programs provide specialized care to victims who have suffered an extremely personal and intrusive assault. These victims are often reluctant to report the assault for many reasons, including fear of the evidence collection procedure. Thanks to Ms. Rowe’s energy and commitment to these victims, the medical and psychological care of sexual assault victims has greatly improved, resulting in less emotional trauma and increased reporting of the crimes. Ms. Rowe’s initiation of this successful program spawned interest throughout Pennsylvania and was the impetus for other hospitals to form SANE programs.
In 1998, Ms. Rowe served on the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s (PCAR) Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Symposium where she provided information about the SANE program. For three years she served on PCAR’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Advisory Committee, which helped guide the development of the SANE program, and created the Sexual Assault Response Team Guidelines that continues to be used throughout Pennsylvania today.
For almost 20 years, Ms. Rowe has managed and supervised the program at the Evangelical Community Hospital. Through her tireless efforts in building a solid working relationship with Transitions, the local victim service agency, she ensures that all nurses in the program receive adequate training and support to continue the important work of assisting victims after a sexual assault. This includes offering the patient a medical forensic examination, which is composed of the medical forensic history, a detailed physical and emotional assessment, written and photographic documentation of injuries and collection and management of forensic samples, and also includes providing emotional and social support and resources. The SANE ensures that the proper chain of custody for the collected evidence is followed, and that the integrity of the samples is maintained so that they are admissible in court. The SANE can also testify in any legal proceedings related to the examination. In order to provide the best service to the patient, the SANE usually collaborates with a multidisciplinary group of professionals to develop a comprehensive plan of care that begins at discharge.
SANE programs are invaluable to law enforcement and prosecution. Under Ms. Rowe’s leadership, Evangelical Community Hospital’s SANE Program has ensured offender accountability and victim safety and created healthier and safer communities in Union, Snyder, Northumberland and surrounding counties.
On behalf of victims of crime and the victim services field, we thank you Ms. Rowe for your innovation, collaboration and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.