Human trafficking affects every region of the world, and every state in the U.S. But no state has reported more cases than California.
Additionally, a survey from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking found that over half of labor and sex trafficking survivors had accessed health care at least once while being trafficked, but nearly 97% of that group had not received any information about human trafficking during those encounters.
The bottom line: health care professionals are too often unprepared to identify and assist trafficked persons. Dignity Health is working to change that through its Medical Safe Haven program.
The Medical Safe Haven program provides comprehensive, trauma-informed health services to trafficking survivors, as well as training for physicians and future health care providers.
“Trafficking victims experience a range of acute and chronic physical and mental health issues resulting from their traumatic experiences,” said Jennifer Cox, Program Director, Medical Safe Haven. “This multi-disciplinary program provides equitable access and integrates embedded advocacy and a one stop shop care model for patients, reducing barriers which existed prior as they would face traveling from clinic to clinic, or accessing care at Emergency Departments. This model of trauma-informed care shows a strong reduction in re-traumatization for victims, and is the appropriate and supportive medical environment on their healing journey.”
Dignity Health provides Medical Safe Haven programs in Sacramento, Santa Maria, Redding, and Los Angeles. The integrated care model offers survivors the full spectrum of health services, including: primary care, prenatal and obstetrical care, newborn, pediatric and adolescent care, mental health support, vaccinations, STI testing and treatment, PrEP, telehealth, and other essential services. The program concurrently trains future physicians to be able to identify, respond to, and appropriately care for trafficking survivors.
“The Medical Safe Haven model was designed to provide health care staff the compassionate education and experience to effectively treat victims of human trafficking using evidence-based methodologies, said Willard Chung, MD, Family Medicine Residency Program Director at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. “Our physician group is eager for the opportunity to provide the appropriate levels of care and resources for survivors of trafficking, as there is a need for these services locally.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call or visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888. For more information about Dignity Health’s Human Trafficking Response Program, visit https://www.commonspirit.org/what-we-do/advancing-health-equity/human-trafficking-response-program.