Human trafficking is a global crisis. Dignity Health is innovating how it's fought.

Human trafficking is one of the most devastating human rights crises the world faces today.

All pictures courtesy of Dignity Health.

According to the International Labour Organization, more than 40 million people are victims of human trafficking around the world. And more than three quarters of these victims are women and children who are forced into labor in many different industries — including sex work.


Tragically, this crisis may only be getting worse. Human trafficking is a lucrative business, bringing in more than $150 billion in profits annually. While organizations worldwide are working to end this pandemic, they'll only be successful with the help of people who know what human trafficking is and what to do if they suspect someone's fallen victim to it.

Unfortunately, many of us don't know how to spot the signs of human trafficking. And yes, this includes doctors.

Though victims of human trafficking often require medical attention and seek aid at their local hospital, health professionals aren't always aware that their patients may be dealing with trauma beyond their physical injuries.

As a result, many victims are discharged without being offered the support and services they so desperately need.

Dignity Health is at the forefront of changing this narrative. The medical services company is employing survivors of human trafficking to advocate for those that need help.

"Survivors now know that the hospital is a safe place," says Christine Cesa, a survivor advocate with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.

Cesa works at Dignity Health's California Medical Center twice a week educating staff members and providing support to fellow survivors.

As a survivor of human trafficking herself, Cesa is uniquely qualified to support people who are victims of human trafficking. And her connection with patients is the first step towards healing.

“The patients respond to me because I come at them with a lot of empathy, care and concern," she says.

"Dignity Health values survivors," says Holly Smith Gibb, the program director of Dignity Health's Human Trafficking Response, who's also a survivor.

“If there was a survivor who was part of the law enforcement and healthcare team that was trying to connect with me it would have made all the difference."

But employing survivors is just one part of Dignity Health's commitment to stopping human trafficking.

Since 2014, the company has worked tirelessly to ensure that no victim of trafficking is overlooked at their facilities.

From providing more training to medical center staff to adding procedures that make it easier for all medical staff to identify and report human trafficking to employing survivors like Cesa, Dignity Health is fighting human trafficking on an individual, community, and systemic level.

It's a model that's working well, so the company hopes that it will soon be put to use in hospitals throughout the nation.

Advocates like Cesa are transforming the way that medical professionals view and respond to human trafficking.

At the medical center where Cesca is employed, the staff is more attuned to what their patients are going through, more eager to help them escape dangerous situations and empower them to embark on safe, happy lives.

And being an advocate has given Cesa a greater sense of purpose, because she can see the impact she's having on patients. She's grateful to be able to use her difficult experiences to help others every day.

“Even though there are hard, emotional days...I go home and feel like, I don't ever want to stop doing this. 'Cause we're helping people," she says.

Learn more about Cesa's work and Dignity Health's human trafficking initiatives in the video below.

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Dignity Health

Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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