Paula Fornara is set to retire at the end of May after 11 years of service to Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC) and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program in Denton County. Ms. Fornara has been a Registered Nurse for 42 years and worked closely with CACDC and Denton County Friends of the Family to start the SANE program for Denton County in 2002.
SANEs conduct medical examinations of sexually assaulted adults and children in Denton County for the purposes of ensuring the immediate medical needs of the victims are met and to assist law enforcement in the criminal investigation of the cases. There are over 200 SANE exams conducted in Denton County each year. Around half of these are non-acute exams of children done at CACDC. Non-acute exams are conducted 96 or more hours after the abuse occurred by nurses with special training in how to provide exams while considering the unique physical and emotional stresses that come with sexual abuse.
"CACDC has been so fortunate to have Paula Fornara as an integral part of our team for the past 11 years, but the children directly served by Paula have been even more blessed to have someone of Paula's experience, compassion, and heart to care for them," said Dan Leal, CACDC Executive Director.
Fornara played a central role in creating a SANE program in Denton County almost 11 years ago.
"We wouldn't have a SANE program if it weren't for Paula. She has been integral in building partnerships with local hospitals and bringing in additional revenue sources to the Center," said Lori Nelson, CAC Program Director.
Because of Paula's hard work, acute SANE examinations are available to adults and children in Denton County at Denton Regional Medical Center, Baylor Medical Center at Carrollton, Flower Mound Emergency Center, and non-acute exams are available for children at CACDC.
Debbie Ridge will replace Fornara as the Denton County SANE Coordinator, a position that offices part-time out of the Advocacy Center. Ridge has 25 years of experience as an RN and has been a SANE for 5 years.
“I feel very blessed to be part of the Denton County SANE Team. I have had the opportunity to work with the CACDC and have found it to be a uniquely rewarding experience. I know every child that visits this CACDC must feel the love and compassion within its walls,” said Ridge about her new role. Ridge’s responsibilities as Coordinator include ensuring all Denton County SANEs cover a rotating 24 hour on-call schedule, reporting to the Multi-Disciplinary team at CACDC on lab results and examinations of victims being served by the Center, and testifying as an expert witness in Denton County sexual abuse cases.
The Children’s Advocacy Center provides justice and healing for abused children in Denton County through interagency collaboration and community education. CACDC works with a team of 32 local law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office, Child Protective Services, SANEs and Juvenile Probation to ensure a coordinated effort in detention and prosecution of perpetrators. The Center also provides free counseling services to all non-offending family members. Find out more at www.cacdc.org.