Stephen Ellison

New Rape Kit Clinic Planned For Stanford Hospital

A plan is in the works to open a new clinic at Stanford Hospital aimed at helping sexual assault victims.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne sent a letter to Santa Clara County supervisors last week announcing the new clinic, and officials with the county and the university outlined how the new rape kit clinic would work.

Area rape crisis centers say they’ve seen an increasing need for another location in the county for victims to go for rape kit exams. Advocates for sexual assault victims have been pushing to have that clinic situated at Stanford Hospital, and it looks as if they will get their wish.

Those advocates and other supporters of sexual assault victims are applauding the decision. Stanford Ph.D. student Emma Tsurkov and her colleagues have been pushing for the program for about a year.

"There is definitely a need for a SART exam or a rape kit exam location on campus," Tsurkov said. "It’s a great idea; we’re happy it’s moving forward."

But it hadn't been easy. Currently, there’s one clinic operating where victims can have a rape kit administered, and it’s miles away at Valley Medical Center in San Jose.

Supporters of the new clinic say someone who has just endured a sexual assault should not have to go so far to get the exam they need.

When plans were announced last month to open the Stanford clinic, concerns were raised during a Santa Clara County supervisors committee meeting.

"We do not support this pilot program unless it is open to everyone, regardless of where the assault occurred," a representative from a group told the committee.

So, the clinic indeed will be open to anyone.

The first proposed location, at a campus student health center, was not acceptable to many as it sits the middle of student housing, where students could potentially see victims entering the clinic.

The solution was to place it at Stanford Hospital, which people enter for any number of reasons. And while the clinic will be operated at the hospital, specially trained nurses employed by the county will administer the rape kits.

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