With a goal of “making the world different,” the international law firm Jones Day last week convened a two-day roundtable to "end human trafficking." The event, held in Houston, engaged a diverse group that included health system representatives, Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, law enforcement and various government officials, as well as victims of human trafficking 

The highlight (for me) was the health provider panel that focused on innovative programs developed to identify and restore victims of human trafficking to the community. Laura Krausa, systems director for advocacy at Catholic Health Initiatives, described a multi-faceted program developed over the past six years. It employs two models of engagement: one focused internally on building hospitals’ capacity to identify and treat victims, with the other focused externally on building the community’s capacity to the same end. She was joined by her colleague Kimberly Williams with St. Luke’s in Houston, which was singled out for special recognition for its work to combat human trafficking.

Among the most comprehensive efforts to address the public health impacts of human trafficking is found at Massachusetts General Hospital. Directed by Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, M.D., the "Human Trafficking Initiative” focuses on research, policy advocacy, education and training. Macias-Konstantopoulos highlighted the recently opened MGH Freedom Clinic that provides comprehensive, trauma-informed care for victims.

Katherine Chon, director of the Office of Trafficking in Persons at Health and Human Services, who kicked off the panel, focused on her office’s efforts to integrate its mission into other federal programs. She described some pilot training programs and offered thoughts on the need for uniform data collection standards to provide more information on the scope of the human trafficking problem.

Another important contribution from a health system came from Ronald Chambers, M.D., with Dignity Health. He announced a forthcoming training resource on caring for victims of human trafficking in both inpatient and outpatient hospital settings. Watch the AHA’s Hospital Against Violence webpage for more information on the resource when its released.

Melinda Reid Hatton is senior vice president and general counsel of the American Hospital Association. She is spearheading the Hospitals Against Violence initiative for the organization.