Nurses, physicians and social workers continue their education on proper responses for human trafficking patients. Madeline Coats/staff photo

Nurses, physicians and social workers continue their education on proper responses for human trafficking patients. Madeline Coats/staff photo

Health care professionals improve response for human trafficking victims

EvergreenHealth partnered with Seattle Against Slavery in the fight against labor and sex trafficking.

EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland partnered with Seattle Against Slavery on June 21 to continue the conversation with health care professionals about recognizing and providing help to human trafficking victims.

Claudia Lawrence, community mobilization director for Seattle Against Slavery, delivered a presentation to nursing staff, physicians and social workers on the importance of identifying signs of exploitation in children and adults. She focused her lecture on the vast intersectionality of human trafficking.

“Not everyone who is trafficked is aware they are trafficked,” said Lawrence.

Victims of trafficking are clustered in the most vulnerable populations, but any type of person can be trafficked. It could be an immigrant from South America lured by the false promise of a decent job or a youth runaway enticed by the idea of finally having a “father figure,” explained Lawrence.

“Human trafficking is the most non-discriminatory plight in our community,” she said. “It really touches on every single sector of the community.”

Nearly 88 percent of human trafficking victims were seen by health care providers while being trafficked, as stated by a study in the Annals of Health Law.

The event was hosted by the Kirkland-based hospital’s forensic nurse examiner team. The group of nurses provide 24-hour care to sexual assault survivors, including access to emergency physicians, social workers and support services.

Seattle Against Slavery is a grassroots nonprofit organized by citizens in King County over the previous 10 years. Their partnership with the hospital aims to mobilize the community in the fight against labor and sex trafficking.

According to the legal definition, human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to make an individual work in any industry. The exploitation of labor dominates other forms of trafficking, explained Lawrence.

The partnership between the hospital and the nonprofit aims to improve the response by health care and law enforcement professionals. Lawrence hopes to push out any preconceived notions and biases about pimps and prostitutes. She highlighted the importance of the relationship between nurses and patients.

“You can literally walk into a room and sit down opposite from someone and ask them very intimate questions about themselves,” she said. That one-on-one interaction may allow victims to open up about their experiences.

As referenced in the presentation, Washington state has the 13th highest number of human trafficking cases reported. King County is estimated to have 300-500 youths sold in commercial sexual exploitation daily. The average age of entry into trafficking businesses has dropped to 13-14 years old over recent years.

Lawrence emphasized the fact that 100 percent of all related arrests in King County have been male suspects. Eighty percent of them are white, she said.

King County is a major hotspot for human trafficking due to various ports. Airports and maritime ports are used to transport immigrants, asylees and refugees into the states.

“There wasn’t much of a relationship with Seattle Against Slavery before,” said Barb Jensen, EvergreenHealth’s manager of trauma services.

Work with the forensic nurse examiner team discovered that it was a larger issue than originally anticipated, she explained.

“I’m just going to keep at it,” said Jensen. “We are so passionate about the FNE team and the need there is for it. This is just another piece of that big puzzle.”

More in News

Suspect arrested for Kirkland Key Bank robbery needed money for rent

Media outlets led police to man’s identification.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

Siri Bliesner, Susan Wilkins and John Towers compete for Lake Washington School District Director District 5 position. Courtesy photos
Three candidates aim to fill an open seat on the Lake Washington School Board

Siri Bliesner, John Towers and Susan Wilkins compete for Lake Washington School District Director District 5 position.

Kirkland resident Elizabeth Standal holds broken heart at the Lights for Liberty Vigil on July 12. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Lights for Liberty Vigil in Kirkland protests conditions of migrant camps

The Kol Ami congregation gathered July 12 for the Lights for Liberty Vigil, calling for an end “human concentration camps.”

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

PSE’s battery storage project could help the clean energy roll-out

The tiny pilot project in Glacier could eventually be expanded.

Kirkland officer fatally shoots man threatening 18-month-old child

King County Sheriff’s Office will conduct investigation into shooting.

An aerial photo shows the locations of two earthquakes and five aftershocks in and near Monroe, which rattled the Puget Sound region early Friday. The first was the magnitude 4.6 quake at upper right, 13 miles under the intersection of U.S. 2 and Fryelands Boulevard SE at 2:51 a.m. The second, magnitude 3.5, occurred 18 miles under the Old Snohomish-Monroe Road at 2:53 a.m. The aftershocks followed during the ensuing two hours. This image depicts an area about 3 miles wide. (Herald staff and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network)
Early wake-up call: Twin quakes under Monroe rattle region

Thousands of people felt them. They were magnitude 4.6 and 3.5 and hit minutes apart.

Most Read