Dignity Health's Human Trafficking Victims Program was started in 2014 as a way to create awareness among health care professionals who may come in contact with potential human trafficking victims..
"Usually we are looking for any signs of abuse, any bruising, or anyone that is with a controlling partner and not allowing them to speak for themselves" said Lonie Hill-Pirtle, social services manager at Mercy hospitals.
The program was rolled across the system's 39 hospitals including all three Dignity Health hospitals in Bakersfield.
Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking advocates trained hospital staff to spot red flags.
"We are educated in something called trauma informed care which provides that ability for them to have a voice and feel safe enough to say hey I need help", said Janelle Goh, supervisor of social services at Memorial hospital.
Helping potential victims is a collaborative effort which is crucial in making the program successful.
"We wanted to have resources for these victims 24/7 and we can link them with shelter, housing, and medical treatment, said Goh.
Last year, the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking identified and assisted 133 victims in Kern County.
For more information on Dignity Health's program visit: http://www.dignityhealth.org/cm/content/pages/human-trafficking.asp