As a healthcare professional, how do you identify victims of human trafficking in your medical practice – and what can you do about it?
This was a hot topic at the Price of Life NYC as we hosted four healthcare workshops at Lehman College, NYU, Columbia University, and Hunter College. We met more than 100 students and some professionals from the community who said it was "eye-opening!"
We learned that 87.8% of trafficked persons encounter a healthcare professional during their captivity. Some who attended the seminar remembered encounters with patients that were full of the red flags of trafficking indicators, but they didn’t see it.
Our speaker, Dr. Jeff Barrows, stressed the importance of having good protocol and a plan in place before intervening in a trafficking situation in the healthcare setting, for the safety of both victims and staff. Until protocol is in place, he advised that the most important thing providers can do is report trafficking encounters to the appropriate agencies. Students and professionals learned how and what to report, and talked about how to begin to develop policy and protocol in their workplace.
Many expressed amazement and frustration that training and protocol were not already in place in healthcare settings to ensure healthcare providers can identify and help. We told them, "You are the future of healthcare. There is much work to be done in education, policy, prevention, research, aftercare, and more. Tell us how you will respond, or what your vision is for healthcare at the intersection of abolition."
Students responded on heart-shaped papers to post on a board entitled, "Healthcare at the Heart of Abolition." Here is a sampling of their thoughts:
--I've never known that healthcare providers can play a big role to actually save human trafficking victims. I will share this information with other prospective healthcare providers and friends.
--I always hear about trafficking, but now I have a real understanding of what it is. This definitely raised my awareness, especially since I will be a nurse who hopes to work in the ER!
--Hospitals must be educated about this. We have a huge opportunity here. We could save 87.8% of victims!
--Vision: I want the ER to be aware of and educated on signs of human trafficking. Response: Try to reach out to the ER for education on the issue.
--I will stop human trafficking by being a caring and observant provider.
--Create new intake for the office & create protocol to detect trafficked patients.
--Better communication and training to detect trafficking victims.
--I plan to share this information with all the members of the nursing program, pre-nursing students, and members of the pre-health organization.
--As a future nurse, I hope to educate my future colleagues about human trafficking & implement a Human Trafficking Awareness Program into my future facility of practice.
--I am a medical student and a member of the Student Leadership Committee. We are meeting tomorrow to discuss ways to improve healthcare at our hospital. I am going to suggest training on human trafficking for physicians, especially in the ER. I am also going to push for written protocol to follow if a victim is encountered.
--I want healthcare professionals to be proactive in preventing human trafficking.
--I hope to address the issue of TIP (trafficking in persons) at its core of abuse and neglect. I intend to increase awareness of the value of self-esteem and independence in the victims I encounter.
--After learning about human trafficking, it amazed me to see the statistics of it. I am in my senior year of nursing at Lehman and all I can think or hope is that one day the hospitals will work more cohesively together and more healthcare professionals will take initiative on this topic.
We encountered many driven and passionate students who care for the vulnerable. One student told me, "We are going to go out of here and share this with others. The effects will be wide-reaching." Praise God!
-- by Morgan Hennessey, R.N.
As a nursing student, Morgan Hennessey was influential in starting the NCF group at The College of New Jersey. She shares her passion for the enslaved in the NCF blogpost, “Stop the Traffick: The Nurse’s Role.” On the lighter side, Morgan and her fellow students created the delightfully funny youtube video, NCF Head-to-Toe Assessment Music Video.
The New York City PRICE OF LIFE INVITATIONAL is a city-wide, campus-based, faith-inspired campaign addressing human trafficking in all its forms, spearheaded by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in partnership with 75+ diverse organizations.