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AHA Convenes Leaders in Fight Against Human Trafficking

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   April 01, 2021

Nurses on healthcare's front lines are a valuable weapon in spotting trafficking victims, an AHA director says.

The American Hospital Association's (AHA) Hospitals Against Violence initiative kicked off its latest gathering in a series of events focused on hospitals’ and health systems’ efforts to identify and prevent human trafficking.

The event, C-Suite Virtual Convening, held this week, was part of ongoing efforts to provide resources to healthcare providers across the nation who are fighting the affliction of human trafficking. Human trafficking—both sex and labor trafficking—affects nearly every community, and victims frequently turn to hospitals for treatment.

Mary Beth Kingston, chief nursing officer at Advocate Aurora Health, AHA Board of Trustees member, and chair of the Hospitals Against Violence (HAV) advisory group, welcomed more than 150 leaders working to support, implement, and amplify strategies to combat human trafficking in the healthcare system, according to AHA. 

Claire Zangerle, chief nurse executive at Allegheny Health Network, Lloyd Dean, CEO at CommonSpirit Health, and Brian Gragnolati, CEO at Atlantic Health System, emphasized the importance of expanding leadership capacity to combat this global issue and encouraged participants to tap into the broad curated resources and tools available through the initiative, AHA said.

Other highlights included sessions on federal efforts to support hospitals in addressing human trafficking; a status report on anti-trafficking efforts in healthcare; and a case study from the Texas Hospital Association outlining work to implement legislation requiring human trafficking identification and response training for providers, AHA said.

It's important to train nurses to spot trafficking victims because of their place on the front line of care every day, Laura Castellanos, AHA associate director, told the American Organization for Nurse Leadership's (AONL) Voice of Nursing Leadership magazine.

"Human trafficking victims are not always easy to spot, much less treat, for both the physical and mental abuse they have experienced," she told the magazine. "Training can help nurses identify and assess suspected victims and understand how to administer trauma-informed care. It can also help caregivers learn how to connect victims with community resources that can assist the recovery process."

AHA’s Hospitals Against Violence initiative has partnered with Jones Day law firm and HEAL Trafficking (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Linkage), a multidisciplinary group of more than 3,100 survivors and professionals in 35 countries dedicated to ending human trafficking and supporting its survivors, from a public health perspective. HEAL Trafficking provides toolkits and other resources to aid caregivers and organizations in creating policies and procedures.

The initiative has two upcoming events for healthcare professionals:

Empowering the Workforce in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Tuesday April 27, 2021

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CST

This working session is designed for clinical, programmatic, and community leaders who are interested or have implemented human trafficking response programs in healthcare settings. Participants will receive key insights, including:

• Actionable steps on building response programs

• Increased knowledge on reporting and educational requirements

• Best practices for identification and assessment

• Strategies for building community and survivor allies

Banding Together in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Thursday, June 3, 2021

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CST

This virtual workshop welcomes all healthcare professionals and partners combating sex and/or labor trafficking. This program will summarize key insights from prior convenings and give participants the opportunity to learn from human trafficking experts, survivors, and healthcare leaders who have anti-trafficking efforts in their organizations.


For more information on the Hospitals Against Violence initiative, visit, call 800-424-4301, or email


“Training can help nurses identify and assess suspected victims and understand how to administer trauma-informed care.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


About 150 healthcare leaders attended the C-Suite Virtual Convening this week as part of anti-trafficking efforts.

Participants were encouraged to tap into the broad curated resources and tools available through AHA's Hospitals Against Violence initiative.

Trafficking victims are not easy to spot, so training can help nurses identify and assess suspected victims.

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