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CommonSpirit Health Expands Human Trafficking Medical Safe Haven Program to Santa Maria


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Marian Regional Medical Center will now offer clinical programs to help victims and survivors of human trafficking

SANTA MARIA, CA – August 30, 2022 – With more than 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, the need for clinical programs that center on trafficking response is critical to helping victims and survivors. Dignity Health announced that is has introduced the Medical Safe Haven (MSH) program at The Family Medicine Center at Marian Regional Medical Center, an area highly impacted by human trafficking. 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. 

Dignity Health is part of the 21-state health system CommonSpirit Health. This initiative builds on the success of CommonSpirit’s Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and Response (VHTPR) program, and Dignity Health’s established MSH program.

The MSH 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. 

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.” 

Dignity Health piloted the MSH model at the Mercy Family Health Center in Sacramento, in June, 2016, and to date has provided victim-centered, trauma-informed care for more than 3,400 encounters involving over 570 patients who have experienced sex and/or labor trafficking, within the three established MSH sites within California: Redding, Sacramento and Northridge. Santa Maria now joins as a newly established MSH poised to provide trauma-informed care in outpatient settings to patients who may have been initially identified in a local service agency or hospital. 

"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.”

This program was made possible by CommonSpirit’s VHTPR Program, the Dignity Health Foundation, and a federal grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime. For more information on the Medical Safe Haven, please visit www.dignityhealth.org/msh.

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About Marian Regional Medical Center

Marian Regional Medical Center is a state-of-the-art, 191-bed medical center located in Santa Maria, California. The modern facility is home to a broad array of services including a level III trauma center, a level III neonatal intensive care unit, a nationally recognized cardiac care center, and boasts the Central Coast’s only Comprehensive Community Cancer Program as recognized by the Commission on Cancer. Marian has been recognized for quality and patient safety and named one of America’s 250 Best Hospitals by Healthgrades®.

Marian Regional Medical Center together with Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, and French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, comprise Dignity Health Central Coast, a network of hospitals, physicians, and outpatient services including physician offices, ambulatory surgery centers, technologically-advanced laboratories, and imaging centers, and a full-service home health agency. Learn more at dignityhealth.org/marianregional.

Publish date: 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

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