Telehealth initiative to assist victims of sexual assault

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A groundbreaking telemedicine initiative launching in Massachusetts aims to help health providers improve assistance to victims of sexual assault.

On Tuesday, Lieutenant Gov. Timothy Murray announced $3.3 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, which will be used over three years to create the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Telenursing Center. A pilot Telenursing Center is set to be created at Newton-Wellesley Hospital that will provide round-the-clock access to medical assistance, consultation and expert forensic sexual assault nurse examiners.

"This program will allow us to use telemedicine to promote the most effective physical, emotional, and forensic care for sexual assault victims," Lauren Smith, Interim Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said in the announcement. "We also need to do everything that we can to support the frontline professionals who work with these patients."

The project won't be limited to just the Bay State, though. Consultation by the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner will work with populations in pilot locations around the country, with grant funding supporting information technology equipment and assistance, expert clinical staffing, education and technical assistance.

Telehealth is gaining popularity across the country in all different types of medical capacities--last week, Maryland state officials introduced legislation requiring the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to reimburse for telemedicine services.

Additionally, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in December sought to expand reimbursement for telehealth services in federal programs and create a federal standard for medical licensure in telehealth.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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