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A safe and supportive place for victims and survivors of human trafficking to get medical care

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Dignity Health
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The Medical Safe Haven program creates a safe space where medical providers can offer ongoing care for victims and survivors of human trafficking, sex and/or labor, through the use of survivor-informed practices that help to minimize further trauma

That’s the aim of a new clinical program on the Central Coast.

The Medical Safe Haven Program creates a safe space where medical providers can offer on-going care for victims and survivors of human trafficking, sex and or labor – at the Family Medicine Center at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.

"Usually when they're seeing a medical provider, whether that's the ER, Urgent Care or some other kind of clinic, those providers haven't had the training to recognize that these individuals have experienced trafficking at some point in their life," Dr Christine Ragay-Cathers from the Center, told KCLU.

"Through some of their traumatic experiences, they're typically very hesitant to see providers or to seek care."

Ragay-Cathers she says resident physicians will be trained to recognize and treat trafficked patients.

Within the Family Medicine Center, the Marian Family Medicine Residency Program - a three-year post-graduate program for physicians – offers training in the broad spectrum of family medicine. Resident physicians will now be trained to recognize and treat trafficked patients.

This integrated-care model offers survivors the full spectrum of health services, including: primary care, prenatal and obstetrical care, newborn, pediatric and adolescent care, mental health support, vaccinations, STI testing and treatment, PrEP, telehealth, and other essential services.

“The Medical Safe Haven model was designed to provide health care staff the compassionate education and experience to effectively treat victims of human trafficking using evidence-based methodologies, says Marian Family Medicine Residency Program Director, Willard Chung, MD. “Our physician group is eager for the opportunity to provide the appropriate levels of care and resources for survivors of trafficking, as there is a need for these services locally.”

"Trafficking victims experience a range of acute and chronic physical and mental health issues resulting from their traumatic experiences,” says Jennifer Cox, Program Director, Medical Safe Haven. “This multi-disciplinary program provides equitable access and integrates embedded advocacy and a one stop shop care model for patients, reducing barriers which existed prior as they would face traveling from clinic to clinic, or accessing care at Emergency Departments. This model of trauma-informed care shows a strong reduction in re-traumatization for victims, and is the appropriate and supportive medical environment on their healing journey.”

For more information on the Medical Safe Haven, please visit www.dignityhealth.org/msh

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award this year, and also won two further first place awards, for Lifestyle Feature and Personality Profile/Interview. Last year, Caroline won first place for Use Of Sound. She also won two Golden Mike Awards this year, for Best News Reporting and Best Entertainment Reporting, as well as a National Arts & Entertainment Award from LA Press Club for One-on-One interview. Caroline started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and she was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007. She moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and is both an American and British citizen. Caroline lives in Agoura Hills with her daughter - her proudest production.