News

1.10.2017

UHealth and Jackson Tackle Human Trafficking Prevention and Treatment

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention month. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in collaboration with Jackson Health System, is making groundbreaking strides in filling a critically unmet need in the area of human trafficking.

Throughout the month the health system will also collaborate with various partners to host events geared at educating and spreading human trafficking awareness among the general public and the health community.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against their will. Almost a year ago, University of Miami Health System physicians, public health experts and health workers, in collaboration with Jackson Memorial Hospital and local shelters, established a human trafficking clinic where victims could access comprehensive care including ongoing primary care, gynecological care and other specialty care services as well as psychiatric services.

Known as THRIVE (Trafficking Healthcare Resources and Intra-Disciplinary Victim Services and Education), it provides a one-stop shop for victims and survivors, many of whom are referred by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office.

JoNell Potter, Ph.D., professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, who was instrumental in starting the clinic, was recently awarded a three-year Department of Justice grant to help fund the operation of the clinic under the auspices of Jackson Memorial Hospital. The innovative clinic operates Monday through Friday.

The request for grant funding to support a health care clinic came in response to an identified need for specialized trauma-informed health care services first brought to the attention of Potter and her team by the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force. Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline and is considered an international hub for human trafficking with its tourism and hospitality industry as well as its agricultural industry.

In an effort to raise awareness about human trafficking in South Florida and to train medical providers on the care of such patients, the University of Miami Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology will present grand rounds by Hanni Stoklosa, M.D., M.P.H., on Thursday, January 19, at 7 a.m., in the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building, fifth-floor auditorium.

Stoklosa is a nationally renowned human trafficking clinician and emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Medicine. She is also the Executive Director of HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, Linkage) Trafficking (healtrafficking.org), which is a network that connects interdisciplinary health professionals in the fight to end human trafficking. Stoklosa’s grand rounds will be helpful for physicians, residents, medical students, other clinicians, and anyone else interested in learning about the identification and medical treatment of human trafficking patients. Her presentation will discuss identifying trafficking victims, their medical issues, how to approach the patients, what to look for, and what to say to the patients.

The Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office will also be conducting their annual Human Trafficking Forum in January. This year, Jackson Memorial Hospital will be hosting the Office of the State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Forum on Thursday, January 26, at 2 p.m. at the Diagnostic Treatment Center. The forum will feature presentations on human trafficking by key stakeholders at the State Attorney’s Office, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and the University of Miami who are all committed to eliminating this public health scourge. The medical center faculty and staff as well as community members are urged to attend this forum to learn more about the issue and how to get involved.

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