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U.S. Department of Justice: Using Telehealth to Improve Care, Access, and Quality of Sexual Assault Forensic Exams

Deadline: July 17, 2019

This Using Telehealth to Improve Care, Access, and Quality of Sexual Assault Forensic Exams program will support grantees in developing or enhancing statewide or regional telehealth programs to improve the quality of healthcare for sexual assault victims, increase the quality of forensic evidence collection, and expand the reach of sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) services through telehealth for communities with limited access to trained SANEs.

Many jurisdictions within the United States do not have access to trained SANEs due to lack of resources and/or challenges stemming from geography and distance from available SANE programs. Rural, tribal, and remote communities are particularly challenged. Even when medical professionals in these communities have received training, it can be very difficult to maintain an adequate number of trained personnel (for example, because there may be too few sexual assault cases presenting to maintain a satisfactory level of training and competency). Without access to competent SANEs, sexual assault victims may not only experience additional trauma caused by the exam, but the evidence may be collected incorrectly or findings may be misinterpreted and ultimately impede the criminal investigation.

The use of telehealth to deliver healthcare in remote or challenging locations can reduce costs, expand the reach for healthcare providers, and in many cases, improve the quality of interactions with patients. Telemedicine also offers a creative solution for delivering services to hard-to-reach victim populations. Further, telehealth technology offers exciting possibilities for filling critical gaps in victim services, especially in those communities that do not have direct access to SANEs.

Purpose Area 1: State/Tribal/Regional Demonstration Sites – The primary goal of this program is to increase the number of highly trained, experienced SANEs and other medical forensic examiners and provide high quality care for victims of sexual assault. Underserved areas/populations can include rural, tribal, and any other areas in need of SANE services and accompanying victim advocacy. Successful applicants will accomplish this goal through the following objectives:

  • Improve availability of expertise by establishing a support network of highly trained, experienced SANEs to provide 24/7 support and guidance to medical providers who do not have SANE training to increase their confidence, competence, and retention
  • Establish or expand the use of telehealth for delivery of high-quality care and sexual assault forensic exams for adolescent and adult victims of sexual assault
  • Ensure that more sexual assault victims receive patient-centered and trauma-informed care during the exam process by incorporating the Quality-Caring Model (https://www.ovcttac.gov/saneguide/introduction/building-a-theoretical-framework-for-sane-practice/)
  • Ensure that sexual assault victims have access to a support person (e.g., a system- or community-based victim advocate) during the exam process
  • Deliver ongoing sexual assault forensic examination support, education, and training to medical providers with limited access to these resources.

Purpose Area 2: Technical Assistance Provider – This solicitation will be used to select one applicant to provide technical assistance (TA) to the Purpose Area 1 sites during the planning and implementation of a telehealth program. TA should be proactive, action-driven, flexible, and involve ongoing communication and collaboration with the selected Purpose Area 1 sites and other relevant federal agencies and partners. The methods of TA delivery should be creative and adaptive according to needs of the selected sites. This might include in-person, phone, and email consultations, webinars, and other distance/online learning technologies. Applicants should have experience and expertise in serving tribal victims or propose a partnership with a subgrantee with this experience.

Amount: Approximately $12,000,000 is available to make awards dependent upon Purpose Area, as follows:

  • Purpose Area 1: State/Regional/Tribal Demonstration Sites – Up to three awards ranging up to $4,000,000 each will be made for a period of performance of 36 months
  • Purpose Area 2: Technical Assistance Project – One award of up to $2,000,000 will be made for a period of performance of 36 months

Eligibility: Dependent upon Purpose Area, as follows:

  • Purpose Area 1, State/Tribal/Regional Demonstration Sites: Eligible applicants are limited to state health departments; nonprofit organizations and for-profit organizations (including tribal nonprofit and for-profit organizations); institutions of higher education (including tribal institutions of higher education); accredited schools of nursing; academic health centers; public, private, or nonprofit hospitals; and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.
  • Purpose Area 2, Technical Assistance Provider: Applicants are limited to state agencies, public agencies, federally recognized tribal governments, nonprofit and for-profit organizations (including tribal nonprofit and for-profit organizations), and institutions of higher education (including tribal institutions of higher education). Applicants must have: (1) demonstrated experience and understanding of telehealth technology, sexual assault victimization, and the many needs of sexual assault victims; (2) the ability to forge partnerships to meet the wide range of assistance that victims need; and (3) the staff resources and capacity to provide technical assistance support to awarded Purpose Area 1 organizations and their stakeholders to successfully implement this project.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=316821

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