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2014 Dare to Care Award

Dianne Fuller, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, recipient of the 2014 Dare to Care Award, established the Salt Lake Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SL SANE), a non-profit organization of nurses providing care and forensic evidence to victims of sexual violence.  

View the video of Dianne Fuller receiving her award

Diane FullerIn 2001 Dianne Fuller was approached by local advocacy groups and Salt Lake City Police Department to develop a team of nurses who could be specialty trained to provide care to victims of sexual violence.  She had practiced as a nurse practitioner for 20 years and often saw patients whose health was negatively impacted from past victimization.  She believed that early intervention by caring nurses may decrease the long term health consequences of sexual violence.  With this in mind she began Salt Lake Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SL SANE), a non-profit organization providing care and forensic evidence to victims of sexual violence.  Creating a successful non-profit health care organization required untold hours of donated time and tremendous work by many wonderful nurses.

Historically, victims of sexual assault and rape were seen by emergency room physicians who provided care and collected forensic evidence.  Victims often had to wait many hours for care while patients with life threatening and urgent medical needs were treated.  Pioneering and visionary nurses across the country identified the inadequate care rape victims were receiving and sought specialized education and training to provide dedicated care for victims of sexual assault and rape in the emergency room setting. Utah did not have a team of nurses providing forensic exams in 2001 (but did have one nurse in Salt Lake County and one in Utah County).  

The idea of developing a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) team grew; business licenses and non-profit status were filed.  She had not started a business before, but had many years’ experience providing service and health care in a variety of settings as well a wealth of administrative experience.  The team, Salt Lake Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SL SANE) emerged with a plan to provide care at one hospital to one law enforcement agency, but quickly expanded to become a mobile team of nurses on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week responding to most hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley and providing service to over 18 law enforcement agencies.  In the first year they saw 69 patients and in the busiest year 385 patients.  In the early years she partnered with the Rape Recovery Center, a long established non-profit victim advocacy agency in our community, for guidance in obtaining grants to support the nurses.  For the first few years they struggled financially, donating most of their services.  Finally grant funding began to be available allowing the nurses to be paid for their time on call, although the majority of the leadership time was still donated.

The most fundamental belief she holds that influences her commitment to patient care and service is the belief that every person has value and deserves respect.  She also believes that every person can make a difference in the lives of others.  These beliefs have been driving forces in the creation and sustaining of SL SANE.  The organizational values she promotes are the essence of nursing. The mission of SL SANE is to provide compassionate care and professional timely patient centered response to victims of sexual violence as part of a multidisciplinary team.  The vision of SL SANE includes empowering all patients to gain control of the long-term effects sexual violence has on her/his life.  This vision is supported through ongoing education of our community and health care providers. SL SANE has been the provider of education for nurses across the state who are interested in becoming sexual assault nurse examiners.  These courses are offered twice a year in various areas of the state.  When she SL SANE began there were SANE nurses in only two counties in the state.  There are now SANEs in 19 of our 24 counties.  SL SANE supports the education and has served as mentors to most of these statewide SANE nurses.

Victims of sexual violence represent a significantly unrecognized and underserved population.  Sexual violence is an occurrence that is not easily or commonly discussed in private or in public.  Although it is estimated that at least twenty percent of the population has been victimized, the topic is so shame filled that less than ten percent of those victimized ever report the crime, and even fewer seek health care.  The long-term health consequences and costs of sexual violence are profound. Developing a program to provide compassionate and professional care to victims of sexual violence has been a way to help victims regain power, health and courage. 

Dr. Fuller received the award at the 20th Annual Honors for Nursing event held Monday, May 12, 2014, at Little America Hotel.