SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – When the unthinkable happens, trained, medical professionals at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System are available to provide help and support.

It’s something they have been doing for many years. Now, the healthcare system is teaming up with other state agencies to remind patients that help is available beyond their doors.

Spartanburg Regional’s acute-care hospitals are the first in the state of South Carolina to be accredited to the Sexual Assault Forensic Excellence (SAFE) Designation System.

“Today marks a large step for us. We have met our first hospital facility that has reached a SAFE designation,” said Sabrina Gast, statewide Forensic Nurse Director with the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network.

Spartanburg Medical Center, Spartanburg Medical Center – Mary Black Campus, Cherokee Medical Center, Union Medical Center and Pelham Medical Center’s emergency departments were named a part of the designation system. It’s one that is accredited to hospitals, communities and other agencies that support victims of sexual assault.

“We wanted to be able to say this hospital would see patients that wouldn’t be turned away. They are going to get the appropriate trauma-related care whenever they go to those facilities,” said Amanda Brown, statewide Forensic Nurse Examiner Program Coordinator with the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network.

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System is working alongside the Attorney General’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN), and other trained professionals to help patients in some of their darkest moments.

“The forensic nursing team here at Spartanburg Regional sees patients after they present for sexual assault or domestic violence. We see more than 600 patients a year at all of our facilities in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union Counties,” said Jennifer Combs, Spartanburg Regional Forensic Nurse Coordinator.

The new designation is aiming to reassure patients that they will receive the necessary care they need no matter which Spartanburg Regional Healthcare facility they go to.

“Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union Counties all have somewhere that they can go and receive exceptional trauma care whenever their victims come in,” said Brown.

“When you get here, you are our only patient. We will spend as much time as needed to care for you and let you know what you can do when you leave here to ensure the best possible outcome,” said Combs.

The accreditation is a reminder that someone will guide sexual assault and domestic violence victims to recovery.

“We have always cared for patients in the trauma-informed manner. It’s just now we are recognized and patients will know, before they arrive at this hospital, that they will receive that care,” said Combs.

According to forensic nurses, evidence can be taken up to four days following a sexual assault. Visit one of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare’s emergency departments and a nurse will assist you.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.