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H.E.A.T. Watch – Stop Human Exploitation and Trafficking

Alameda County H.E.A.T. Watch Tip Line:
1-510-208-4959
Office of the District Attorney, Alameda County
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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HEAL Trafficking

Studies from across the US reveal that victims of human trafficking access health care services during their exploitation, creating valuable opportunities for education, empowerment, and intervention with this vulnerable population. The experience of labor or sex trafficking commonly results in physical and/or psychological harm, and victims are known to present to emergency departments, urgent care clinics, reproductive health clinics, labor and delivery units, community clinics and FQHCs, dentists, pediatricians, public health centers, school-based health centers, private doctors’ offices, and other settings. However, trafficking victims slip through these doors every day, undetected and unassisted, because health systems and personnel are not prepared to recognize and appropriately respond to this population. This lack of awareness and preparation ultimately prevents trafficked people from getting the help and care they need.

With hopes to address this critical gap in health care systems, HEAL Trafficking, in partnership with Hope for Justice, created the Protocol Toolkit for Developing a Response to Victims of Human Trafficking in Health Care Settings. This Toolkit guides health care facilities through the process of creating the trauma-informed, patient-centered procedures and partnerships necessary for an appropriate response. The Toolkit encourages health care facilities to build upon and improve existing procedures for responding to patients who have survived intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child abuse, while providing specific guidance for working with trafficked persons. The Toolkit outlines key protocol components and strategies, including the creation of linkages to service provision by diverse community-based, faith-based, and government agencies.

The H.E.A.T. Institute has engaged HEAL Trafficking to provide technical assistance for the development of human trafficking protocols for four Alameda County hospitals: Highland Hospital, UC San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Alta Bates-Sutter Hospitals, and Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. Expert HEAL Trafficking consultants, with the support of the H.E.A.T. Institute, work with champions and teams from each participating hospital to review and amend hospital processes in order to better recognize and serve trafficked patients. The hospitals also rely upon the Bay Area’s rich network of community-based agencies to provide referrals and resources to patients who are ready to receive assistance. In addition, HEAL Trafficking is working with the H.E.A.T. Institute and the hospital champions to create a standardized response protocol for hospitals and health care agencies in Alameda County.

“Having hospital human trafficking plans in place can make a true difference for trafficked people, and with the help of this incredible partnership, hospitals within Alameda County will develop the tools needed to bring light to human trafficking and to respond to it in an effective way,” said Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy E. O'Malley.

This project was graciously funded by the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Community Benefit Program and the United Lutheran Church of Oakland.

For more information about HEAL Trafficking’s response protocol technical assistance, please contact Dr. Susie Baldwin, President of HEAL Trafficking, or Executive Director Dr. Hanni Stoklosa at info@HEALtrafficking.org. You can also visit www.healtrafficking.org to learn more about resources, education and training surrounding human trafficking and healthcare.