Forensic Care & Advocacy

We are here for you, no matter what

As workplaces, schools, and communities are confronted with concerns around COVID-19, the entire care team at Forensic Care & Advocacy is here to help you, no matter what. We know that this is a difficult time, and that uncertainty around the coronavirus may feel overwhelming for survivors already coping with trauma and stress. If you need to talk, we're here. If you need immediate care, our doors remain open at all Spectrum Health Lakeland emergency departments. 

Our team is available for assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week in all Spectrum Health Lakeland Emergency Departments or by phone anytime at 269.687.1880.

You are not alone

What is Forensic Care & Advocacy? 

Forensic Care & Advocacy (formerly known as SANE) at Spectrum Health Lakeland has been providing specialized medical evaluations since 2009. Through crisis intervention and emotional support, including legal advocacy and counseling, we provide care for survivors of:

Our team of forensic nurses, certified sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), and advocates are available to care for patients of all ages who have been sexually or physically assaulted or abused. We're here not only right after it happens, but also days or weeks after an assault.  Our care is designed to meet each patient's medical and emotional needs, with service based on patient preference. A referral is not needed and services are available for patients of all ages. Download an informational brochure.

We're here for you
Spectrum Health Lakeland has a team of highly-trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) available 24 hours a day to care for those who have been sexually assaulted. If you need immediate care our staff is available in the emergency departments at: 

Spectrum Health Lakeland Niles Hospital at 31. N. St. Joseph Ave | Niles, Mi 49120

Spectrum Health Lakeland Watervliet Hospital; at 400 Medical Park Dr. | Watervliet, MI 49098

Spectrum Health Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph  at 1234 Napier Ave | St. Joseph, Mi 49085


What is sexual assault? 
Sexual assault is any sexual act in which a person is forced to engage against their will. This may include unwanted touching by a stranger or someone you know. It can happen anywhere, at any time of the day. It is very important to get a medical forensic exam after a sexual assault even if you don’t think you have any wounds or if the assault occurred a while ago. 

Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. In Berrien County, more than 300 children (16 years and under) and 40 adults (over age 17) reported being sexually abused or assaulted in 2014. These numbers are only a glimpse into the number of sexual assaults in our community and country. Less than half of people report their assault. 

The Forensic Care & Advocacy team can help sexual assault survivors begin the healing process immediately by providing specialized care to help them live full and happy lives. 

Safe, private, and tender care
Our team is here to help anyone affected by assault–not only right after it happens, but also days or weeks later
. We provide tender care designed to meet each patient’s medical and emotional needs, with services that include:

  • A medical forensic exam and record
  • Help with concerns about sexual infection and pregnancy
  • Discharge planning and referrals to the right services, such as police departments, shelters, or counseling services
  • Support for your emotions
  • Assistance with billing through the 
  • Safe response program

If it has been more than five days since an assault and you do not have injuries that need immediate care, you can make an appointment at the Children's Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan. These appointments are available for patients of all ages at 269.687.1880If you have injuries and need immediate care; call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency department. 

What should I expect during my visit? 
We will meet with you in person to discuss any questions or concerns you might have for yourself or your child. We will talk one-to-one with you to get a complete medical history and assess you or your child’s needs, which may include a physical exam. 
Our nurses and advocates care for one patient at a time so you don’t feel rushed. They will also connect you with resources to continue your care. The length of the visit may vary, depending on your needs. You may contact 269.687.1880 at anytime for more information or questions. 

How should I prepare my child for the visit?
It is a good idea to schedule your day so that your child is well-rested and well-fed before the exam. Please bring your child’s favorite toy, blanket, book, or anything else that will help them feel safe. Most of all, please explain to your child that we are here to help.

What happens after a visit?
Once we have a clear picture of you and/or your child’s health, we can help with next steps. Our nurses work with you, to easily connect you with any needed necessary information or follow-up care. We would like you to contact us with any questions or concerns.

For more information about the Forensic Care & Advocacy call 269.687.1880. You do not need to provide your name when calling for resources. 

Medical referral 
Medical providers can learn more about referral guidelines for Forensic Care & Advocacy by clicking here

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