The Healthcare Standard

Health Matters: Human Trafficking Education for Nurses

It’s an unimaginable crime, and studies show it’s happening close to home. “We know that Florida ranks third in the nation in human trafficking cases,” said Jennifer Wolff, an emergency department nurse with Lee Health.

Eighty percent of human trafficking victims are seen by a medical professional while under the care of their trafficker—and 60 percent of victims are brought to the emergency department.

“I can identify on some very small level with a human trafficking victim. I was sexually exploited by my father my entire childhood. I was also physically abused and emotionally abused,” said Christy Ivie, president and founder of Christy’s Cause.

Today, through an organization called Christy’s Cause, Christy Ivie works to eradicate child sex trafficking through awareness and education. “I remember the doctor looking at me, looking at my father, looking at me, and looking at my father and on the inside, I was just begging, please ask me some questions,” said Christy.

Lee Health established a human trafficking policy in 2016—recently, Lee Health partnered with Christy’s Cause to teach nurses how to recognize and respond to signs of human trafficking. “There’s a lot of general education out there about human trafficking but there wasn’t anything really specific for nursing and what you can do when you’re standing in the hospital room, and you think you have a patient who is a victim of trafficking, what are the steps you take,” said Wolff.

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