The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) on Oct. 22 presented its annual Community Health Leadership Award to Viriginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) for its violence prevention initiative on human trafficking prevention and response.
VMFH has been active in using a public health approach to preventing violence since 2010. Their goals include preventing gun violence, reducing suicide and responding to human trafficking. They do this through building community organization capacity and advocating for more resources for communities in need.
“Taking care of our community goes beyond treating patients in the hospital,” Virginia Mason Franciscan Health CEO Ketul J. Patel said. “We see preventing violence as part of our broader health care duties, and we are incredibly proud of the work our teams are doing to prevent and respond to human trafficking in our region.”
VMFH established a Human Trafficking Prevention & Response Task Force at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way in 2020 and will replicate this model at four other VMFH hospitals starting with St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma, creating a sustainable protocol. The first Human Trafficking Task Force at St. Francis hospital is active with representation from five key stakeholder departments and local community agency advocates, serving Federal Way patients, families and the community. In addition, St. Francis Hospital is the only hospital in King County to offer in-person medical advocacy for patients who have experienced any form of sexual violence, as well as case management services for victim-survivors of sex trafficking.
“Washington hospitals serve not just as places to heal people but also as community leaders tackling some of our toughest challenges,” WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer said. “We are proud to honor Virginia Mason Franciscan Health with the Community Health Leadership Award for their frontline efforts in and out of the hospital.”