SB 951 - This act establishes the "Justice for Survivors Act" and directs the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a statewide telehealth network for forensic examinations of victims of sexual offenses by July 1, 2022. A statewide coordinator shall be selected by the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services to oversee the network. The network shall provide mentoring, training, and assistance for medical providers conducting forensic examinations, including training on obtaining informed consent by the victim to evidence collection. The network shall also provide consultation services, guidance, and technical assistance through telehealth services by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or other similarly trained appropriate medical providers. The training may be offered in-person and online.
This act creates the "Justice for Survivors Telehealth Network Fund" for any grants, gifts, bequests, or donations accepted by the Department for the development and maintenance of the network and the training offered by the network.
Additionally, this act requires any licensed hospital, by January 1, 2023, to perform a forensic examination using an evidentiary collection kit upon the request and consent of a victim of a sexual offense fourteen years of age or older or the victim's guardian. Victims under fourteen years of age shall be referred to a SAFE CARE provider; provided, that nothing in this act shall be interpreted to prevent a hospital from performing a forensic examination for a minor under fourteen years of age upon the minor or guardian's request in accordance with state law and regulations.
An appropriate medical provider shall perform the examination and the hospital shall ensure that any provider performing the examination has received training conducting such examinations. If the provider is not a SANE or similarly trained physician or nurse, then the hospital shall utilize telehealth services, such as those provided by the statewide telehealth network, to provide guidance and support through a SANE, or other similarly trained physician or nurse, who shall observe the live examination and communicate with and support the onsite provider. The Department may issue a waiver of the telehealth requirement if the hospital demonstrates a technological hardship in accessing telehealth services or a lack of access to adequate broadband services. Such waivers shall be granted sparingly for no more than one year at a time, subject to renewal at the Department's discretion.
The Department shall waive the requirements of this act for any licensed hospital if the statewide telehealth network ceases operation, the Director of the Department notifies the hospital that the network has ceased operation, and the hospital cannot, in good faith, comply with the requirements of this act without the assistance or resources of the network. Such waiver shall remain in effect until the network resumes operation or until the hospital can comply with the requirements of this act without the assistance or resources of the network.
Current law regarding the reimbursement of such examinations and the provision of evidentiary collection kits shall apply to the forensic examinations under this act.
Finally, each hospital shall, by October 1, 2021, report specified information concerning forensic examinations performed at the hospital to the Department each year and the Department shall in turn make such information publicly available; provided, that such information shall not include any personally identifiable information of any victim or medical provider performing the examination.
Provisions of this act are similar to SB 456 (2019).