Response to Incident in Laurens County

On Saturday, July 15, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release to local media concerning the handling of a sexual assault case at GHS’ Laurens County Memorial Hospital.

Despite what has been reported in the news, I want to assure our patients and community that we followed the law and that all appropriate medical protocols and policies were followed. Patients are the focus of everything we do, and we strive to provide the best care possible to all of our patients.

Every patient who visits an emergency department at any one of our hospitals receives a medical screening exam to determine if they have an emergent medical condition. If such a condition exists, the patient is stabilized within the capabilities of that hospital. If the hospital doesn’t have the capabilities to treat the patient, the patient is provided an appropriate transfer to another facility. For example, if a patient presents at one of our community hospitals with signs of a stroke, the patient would be stabilized and transported to the Stroke Center at Greenville Memorial Hospital where we have specially trained staff ready to provide expert care.

In the case of a sexual assault, it is general practice at all of our facilities to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) provide a sexual assault exam because these nurses have special training in medical forensics and often provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial. If a SANE-certified nurse is not present, we offer patients the opportunity to be immediately transported to a facility where a SANE-certified nurse is available. If a patient doesn’t want to be transported, a doctor can perform the exam. However, in all cases, a patient must give consent for the exam to occur. If a patient does not consent or says they want to leave the hospital, we must respect their wishes.

Our goal is to provide the right care at the right time and the right place and to be a source of help and healing along this difficult journey. We take sexual assault cases very seriously and understand how difficult it can be for a victim to seek treatment at a hospital.

GHS is committed to providing high quality care to all patients, and we welcome the opportunity to work together with local law enforcement to ensure victims of sexual assault and abuse get the care they need.

Catherine Chang, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Greenville Health System

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