Sexual Assault Victim Emergency FundOregon
The Sexual Assault Victim Emergency Fund (SAVE) was established through legislative action to encourage appropriate medical care for victims of sexual assault. The fund provides a stable, confidential means of payment for sexual assault medical exams and gives victims the option of whether they want forensic evidence collected.
The fund includes a capped payment for optional collection of forensic evidence and costs associated with the use of an emergency room, a medical practitioner's time to conduct the exam, a urine pregnancy test, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted disease prophylaxis. It does not cover the cost of any treatment for injuries.
Making the Idea a Reality
This fund is not supported by general tax dollars or any legislative appropriation. Since its operation began on March 1, 2004, it has been supported by donations from hospitals and grants from a victim services fund at the Oregon Department of Justice. It will bring in matching dollars from the federal Victims of Crime Act grant.
Key to establishing a program like this is having hospitals participate at the policy level. To acquaint stakeholders with the program, the Oregon Department of Justice held regional trainings for hospital staff from all hospitals in the state. Sexual assault service providers were also invited.
Benefits to Victims
Victims are provided with quality medical exams and access to emergency contraception, prophylaxis for sexually transmitted infections, and collection of forensic evidence (optional) at no costand with confidentiality ensured. The fund can be billed even if the patient has insurance, providing another level of confidentiality. There are no eligibility criteria other than arriving at the hospital, disclosing sexual assault, and requesting an exam. Victims must fill out minimal paperwork and bills are paid promptly, eliminating any payment headaches that can add stress to a victim's situation.
Concurrent with establishing the SAVE Fund has been an ongoing effort to train and use sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) to conduct exams. This reduces cost and provides each victim with a specially trained examiner who has time to devote to more holistic assistance. The number of practicing SANEs is growing and many hospitals are now more supportive of SANE services.
Benefits to Victim Service Professionals
This fund helps law enforcement, which previously had an unfunded mandate for the payment of forensic evidence collection, and assures hospitals that they will receive payment in a timely manner for all the sexual assault victims they see.
Since it began operation on March 1, 2004, 841 victims of sexual assault have used the fund.
- Get buy-in from hospitals early, as many will need to modify their billing procedures. Be prepared to talk business and demonstrate how hospitals can benefit, even though victim advocates are looking at this from a benefit to the victim standpoint.
- This type of program is much easier to implement if it is part of a Crime Victim Compensation Program because the benefits of each sometimes overlap.
- If programs of this type depend on donations, they will need to hire an experienced person who can devote time to marketing and soliciting those donations.
- Surprisingly, 87 percent of victims requested forensic evidence collection along with their medical examination.