United Concierge and Littauer partner for sexual assault care

Tina Bagley, a registered nurse, was a key figure and instrumental in bringing TeleSAFE to Nathan Littauer Hospital. (Photo submitted)

GLOVERSVILLE — United Concierge Medicine and Nathan Littauer Hospital have announced an innovative partnership to improve care for sexual assault victims called TeleSAFE, according to a news release.

Using an approach to care and digital technology, the UCM-administered TeleSAFE program solves the problem of limited access to care for sexual assault victims in the state by virtually connecting emergency department staff with a certified sexual assault forensic examiner. The SAFE-certified providers will then help guide ER staff through the process of the forensic exam.

Launched Feb. 1, Nathan Littauer is the first hospital in the state to offer the care model, the release stated.

“As a rural, independent hospital we always embrace new technology solutions to better serve our community,” said Laurence E. Kelly, president and CEO of Nathan Littauer Hospital.

“This new partnership will provide UCM’s innovative and customized virtual care to patients and support to staff, and provide even greater access to care while comforting victims of sexual assault. In the end, it is our patients — even those most vulnerable and in crisis –who will benefit from this partnership.”

This program is funded by a $300,000 grant from the state Department of Health, Division of Family Health, and a $2.85 million grant funded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Both grants are being administered by the St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation.

“Access to SAFE providers is a public health crisis disproportionally impacting small and rural hospitals,” said United Concierge Medicine CEO Keith Algozzine.

“No one should be denied timely care because the hospital has no SAFE-certified provider available. That’s why UCM is so excited to launch this program and serve the patients of Nathan Littauer. We hope all hospitals who do not have 24/7/365 SAFE providers available will partner with us to ensure victims of sexual assault receive the care they need.”

The program is a resource for rural and underserved areas throughout the state, allowing them to comply with public health law to care for patients after sexual assault, the release stated. The challenge for many hospitals, particularly in rural areas, is the lack of available SAFE providers. Regardless of the hospital to which a patient presents, he or she can now have access to a SAFE provider.

According to the New York state DOH website, there are only 45 SAFE certified hospitals in the state. A SAFE certified facility meets strict criteria for standards of care and provides coverage for victims of sexual assault 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Of those 45 hospitals, 27 are located in or around the New York City metropolitan area, leaving 18 facilities to provide care for the some 12 million people in the rest of New York.

However, through this pilot program, Nathan Littauer and 45 other hospitals in the Capital Region and Central New York will now be able to virtually access SAFE-certified providers to properly treat victims. Importantly, 18 of these 46 hospitals are designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as critical access hospitals. These facilities receive this designation if they are more than 35 miles away from another hospital, among other criteria.