Press Release

MCSW Statement on DPH Change to SANE Program on the Cape

Contact: Ellen Moorhouse, Communications and Marketing Director, MCSW / (351) 220-8646

December 1, 2022 – The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) is very concerned about the decision made by The Department of Public Health (DPH) to drastically reduce coverage of the Cape & the Islands regional Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. This transition will reduce Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital to just one in-person SANE nurse Monday-Friday during the hours of 9AM-3PM and after 3PM to provide Tele SANE services. This issue was brought to our attention by our Cape Cod and the Islands Regional CSW for women and girls and the Cape Delegation. DPH’s decision will be effective November 14, 2022.

Within the past few months, the MCSW, Cape and Islands Commission on the Status of Women (CCICSW), the SANE regional nurses, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) chapter for the region, and the Cape delegation of elected officials have been working collaboratively to prevent this transition. We responded by connecting with local elected officials, listening to nurses testify first-hand at our Provincetown Hearing in September 2022, research on this issue at hand, and conducting meetings with key community stakeholders. To review survivor, nurse, and community testimony from that hearing, please visit this link:

We have worked diligently to address the issue and have received answers from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and from the Department of Public Health (DPH) about their decision to cut the in-person SANE Services past the hours of 3pm and shift to a hybrid Tele SANE model for the Cape & Islands hospitals. Yet, the answers do not put us in a position of support for this transition/change.

During our conversations with DPH, we received information we did not have knowledge of prior; such as data about cases and areas that are not covered at all by SANE or TeleSANE which has added to our concerns about survivors in those areas as well. Access to reproductive health services on the Cape and Islands is already extremely limited – this cut will have lasting impacts on those who need these crucial services in-person. 

We, the MCSW and our collaborating partners, remain concerned that survivors’ voices, needs, and rights are not supported through this decision, and that nurses will ultimately lose their position if they are unable to support newly assigned areas as SANE Nurses.  

In partnership with the Cape Delegation, we urge DPH to rescind their decision, which will allow for us and our partners to support the recruitment of new nurses interested in becoming SANE Nurses in the Cape & Islands Hospitals.  

Our requests to the Administration, the legislature, EOHHS, DPH and SANE administration are as follows:  

  • Rescind this decision   
  • Work with us, and other supporting bodies, to recruit nurses to fill the regional need of 18-23 additional SANE trained medical professionals 
  • Receive any information available documenting survivor-reported experience within the TeleSANE process

Dr. Sarah Glenn-Smith 
MCSW Chairwoman