HelloHealthy | Spring 2019 3 Human trafficking doesn’t happen only in faraway countries. It happens in cities across the U.S., and it happens right here in our community. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of State, California is one of the nation’s top four destination states for human trafficking. “Human trafficking is a real issue,” says Tammy Shaff, Community Health Director at Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center. “And anyone could be a victim.” Taking a stand Dignity Health has taken a stand against human trafficking and is actively involved in efforts to educate, train, and increase awareness, both in our facilities and in the broader communities we serve. Recognizing that injury or illness causes many trafficking victims to access health care while being trafficked, they have developed a Human Trafficking Response Training Program. “As part of our human trafficking response protocol, we teach staff to look for red flags that could identify patients as a victim of trafficking,” says Anitra Williams, St. Joseph’s Director of Nursing Operations. “Within the first week after training, we identified a 14-year-old girl and were able to get her help.” Partners for a healthier, safer community By expanding efforts beyond the hospital, Shaff, Williams, and others hope to make more people aware of this heartbreaking crime so that How you can help Are you interested in volunteering or having a human trafficking presentation at your school, business, or place of worship? If so, please call Monica Gamboa at 209.461.5142 . more victims may escape its grip. Partnering with the San Joaquin County Human Trafficking Task Force is one such effort. The task force educates health care organizations on how to identify and respond to potential trafficking. They are also reaching out to schools, malls, and businesses where trafficking encounters may occur. Passionate and mission-driven “Our mission and values call for us to advocate for social change and the disenfranchised,” says Debbie Rinaldo, Community Health Education Coordinator at St. Joseph’s. “We’re passionate about protecting human dignity.” Human trafficking has many forms besides sex trafficking. These include forced labor and even organ trafficking. But a common thread is exploitation. Yet many people may be unaware of the problem. “Without awareness, many victims out there will continue to be enslaved and traumatized,” Rinaldo says. “Together we can make a difference.” Helping to end human trafficking Suspect human trafficking or need help? Call the 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888 .