About this Project
Human trafficking is often known as "modern-day slavery" using fraud, coercion and/or abuse of persons for sex trafficking and labor. Conservative estimates report that about 17,500 individuals are brought into the United States for this, the third largest illegal industry in the world. This figure does not include US citizens or residents, such as runaways, displaced persons, and at-risk youth who are also targeted by pimps and traffickers.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 was designed to increase protections for all trafficked persons in the U.S. The problem is identifying these individuals so that they can be afforded protection. Such a task may seem overwhelming, as traffickers effectively use psychological and financial control mechanisms to keep their "workers" and victims may not speak English and/or fear deportation.
In speaking with Brown Medical Students in the fall of 2005, Katherine Chon, co-founder of Polaris Project, a not-for-profit organization that works to combat human trafficking, stated that the medical field is essentially the frontline of defense for these victims - especially emergency departments. Victims present here, often with their traffickers, and receive medical attention but not the further help they need that would remove them from the environment that places their lives at risk daily. According to Chon, emergency healthcare providers often miss or mistake the signs of human trafficking, and/or do not know how to help, and the victims are sent back "home" with their traffickers.
Emergency healthcare providers ought to know how these cases present to their departments, just as they know the presentation of intimate partner violence victims or individuals with acute MI, so that they can better serve their communities; providers must also learn of the resources, like Polaris Project, available to help their patients after emergent care is provided. This information needs to be widely and efficiently circulated to providers, as human trafficking victims may only present once to the E.D. Furthermore, these case presentations must be incorporated into the education of medical students to close the knowledge-gap.
This project endeavored to generate a teaching module for current emergency providers, as well as for healthcare professional students, to inform them of the clinical presentation and appropriate treatment of human trafficking victims. With said aim, this website was developed to make this information easily available and accessible to healthcare practitioners.
This project would not have been possible without the following persons and organizations:
Dr. Lynne Richardson at Mt. Sinai's Emergency Medicine Dept; thank you for your continued support and wealth of knowledge. You saw the potential in a young medical student and made this vision real.
The American Osler Society; the Bean Award helped make this work possible.
The Petersen Fund and its committee, Dean Alicia Monroe, M.D., and Dr. Monika Bolino, at Brown Medical School; thank you for the contribution and continued support.
Dr. Sheldon Jacobson, Dr. Andy Jagoda, Dr. Peter Shearer, Dr. Jack Choi, Dr. Stuart Kessler, and Jocelyn Sese, Nurse Manager; thank you all for making space in the educational curriculum at Mt. Sinai and Elmhurst hospitals.
Dr. Rajeev Bais; thank you for taking the time.
Maggi Rodriguez; thank you for the being the person I could always ask.
Dr. Deborah Fish Ragin and Jeidy Carrasco; thank you for your dedication to the Mt. Sinai Emergency Medicine Summer Research Program. Your program was this project's vehicle.
The American Medical Students Association and the Medical Education Dept at the University of Michigan Medical School; thank you for the Training Tomorrow's Teachers Today 2006 conference and for beginning to teach me how to teach.
Rebecca Sadun; thank you for always knowing the next step.
Pamela Andreatta; thank you for assuring me of the way.
The T4 2006 participants; thank you for your encouragement, energy, and vision. You all saw farther than I did--this website was born of your visions.
Katherine Chon and Bradley Miles at Polaris Project; thank you for the inspiration and the support. Your work made my work easy.
Theodore Youn; Teddy, thank you for the beginning and for sticking with it, even through the surgery rotation.
Catherine Greibel at SafeHorizon; your kindness is truly a gift.
Vandana Tripathi at Doctors of the World; thank you for sharing your work.
Ronak Talati; thank you for building this website for the providers. Without you, the website would have been only a vision for so much longer.
Jill Brenneman; thank you for your story, your work, and of course, the webspace. You are the rock of the teaching and a gift to survivors and activists; keep telling your story, keep fighting.
Without these, and so many others, this project would not be possible. You each contribute to decreasing the disparity and injustice; you enhance the quality of healthcare in this nation and you inspire me. Thank you.