Catholic Health Initiatives has made it easier for a hospital or health system to get up to speed in identifying and treating potential victims of human trafficking. The Englewood, Colo.-based system recently launched an online half-hour course to do just that.
Called “Addressing Human Trafficking in the Health Care Setting,” CHI is aiming to provide more than just an introduction to the problem with its interactive course, which offers facts, tactics and tips on dealing with possible trafficking victims.
The problem can take various forms, including that of forced labor or sex, and can involve children. CHI’s program is based on the work of Massachusetts General Hospital, a leader in the matter, and could prove useful for the growing number of hospitals and health systems working to combat the problem. Additional resources also also are available from the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association and the American Medical Women’s Association.
Colleen Scanlon, R.N., senior vice president and chief advocacy officer for CHI, says the decision to produce the course was an outgrowth of the system’s long-standing focus on preventing violence. As awareness of the problem of trafficking continued to grow, CHI in 2014 produced an introductory video to spread awareness of health care’s role in solving the problem, targeting its caregivers and staff, as well as others. After the video was completed, CHI officials decided the next phase of spreading awareness would be the course, Scanlon says.
The program may prove valuable to caregivers in the field. Some finesse is needed when dealing with patients who are potential victims, because they are likely to feel threatened from retribution if they reveal their plight. At the same time, health care workers may be their best avenue to freedom, so handling the situation properly can be critical to gaining a victim’s freedom.
In addition to the course, the information is available in a downloadable PDF that can be stored on a smartphone, Scanlon says.
CHI is not done with the issue, and will consider what its next step may be. “It will be an ongoing focus,” she says. “These issues are very important.”