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Dignity Health launches program to assist human trafficking victims

(Pixabay photo)

PHOENIX — A California-based not-for-profit company launched a program in an effort to take a stand and face the misconceptions and stigmas that come along with human trafficking.

Dignity Health recently launched its Human Trafficking Response Program for medical professionals.

The goal of this program is to ensure trafficked victims are identified in the health care setting and appropriately assisted with victim-centered, trauma-informed care and services.

“Health care has recognized that we are seeing victims in our hospitals, clinics, inside physician’s practices,” Holly Gibbs, the program director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

“Whether we are prepared or not, they are coming to see us.”

Dignity Health wanted to make information accessible to anyone, especially medical professionals, available online. So they created an online module called Human Trafficking 101: Dispelling the Myths.

The module provides basic education to health care professionals and other first responders about human trafficking, including definitions, prevalence, and common misconceptions.

“We want to educate medical professionals about how to identify victims and how to respond.” Gibbs said.

“Our education is set up in a way to deconstruct ten common myths associated with human trafficking,” she said.

Some of those myths include that human trafficking only happens overseas, only happens to foreigners in the United States and only women and girls are trafficked.

Dignity Health partnered with the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network and TRUST, or Training and Resources United to Stop Trafficking, in hopes of tackling the issue with collaboration.

“This issue is not something that one person, entity, or agency can do alone,” Stacey Sutherland, the programs director at TRUST, said.

“We are not only using medical professionals, but we are also using allies in the human trafficking field who can speak about what it is like to be a victim.”

Shanna Parker is a victim of human trafficking and is now working with Dignity Health to tell her story and give a closer insight to what victims endure, especially in the medical setting.

“Most victims in this horrible crime do end up in front of some medical professional,” Parker said.

“I myself ended up in emergency rooms and clinics and was never identified because they didn’t know what they were looking at,” she added.

“It’s very important we help people understand who a victim is, what they look like, and how to interact with them to make them feel safe.”

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