Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett Joins UN Panel to Fight Human Trafficking

International panel calls on World Health Organization to adopt uniform global standards to help providers identify and aid victims of trafficking

EDISON, N,J., Sept. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey's largest and most integrated health network, is pleased to announce that Chief Executive Officer Robert C. Garrett participated in a United Nations panel yesterday which developed uniform global standards to help healthcare providers identify and aid victims of human trafficking, protocols now sent to the World Health Organization for adoption.

Robert C. Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health Chief Executive Officer, speaks at Thursday's United Nations panel about how healthcare providers can best identify and help victims of human trafficking.
Robert C. Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health Chief Executive Officer, speaks at Thursday's United Nations panel about how healthcare providers can best identify and help victims of human trafficking.

"Healthcare providers have a moral imperative to intervene in this global tragedy and we can save countless lives with this effective policy that can be shared throughout the world,'' said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. "Fighting human trafficking aligns with a major priority of our organization - promoting health equity and human dignity to improve the health of our communities.''

Human trafficking is a global public health crisis with an estimated 50 million victims worldwide. It occurs in more than 165 countries and is a $150 billion-a-year global industry. Studies show that 9 in 10 victims seek medical aid, with 70 percent of them accessing care through an emergency department.

For the last three years, Global Strategic Operatives (GSO), a non-profit humanitarian organization and the Sovereign Order of Malta Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations have worked to develop a protocol to assist health care providers globally to identify and aid victims of human trafficking. Currently there is no uniform global standard.

Hackensack Meridian Health participated in a pilot program with five other leading U.S. health systems and international healthcare organizations sponsored by GSO to train providers to better identify and aid victims. This research has led to the evidence-based recommendations to create a new global protocol which is now before the World Health Organization for approval.

"The proposal we are sending to the World Health Organization for adoption will define how to recognize, identify and implement a trauma-informed, survivor-informed, person-centered, culturally appropriate response to trafficked people seeking health care,'' said Deborah O'Hara-Rusckowski, special advisor to the Ambassador on Human Trafficking.

Hackensack Meridian Health has developed more expansive programs to fight trafficking in addition to training team members. The network screens patients throughout New Jersey for non-medical issues that can impact health, such as housing or food insecurity. To date, more than 400,000 patients have been screened and more than 1 million referrals made to community service agencies. Mr. Garrett announced at the UN that this vital screening will now include human trafficking.

Additionally, Mr. Garrett announced that the network is mandating training for future physicians at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine next year. This new initiative will aid students as they partner with people in underserved communities as part of the school's Human Dimension program.

"I am calling on all healthcare leaders to do their part to help victims and save lives. Together, we can make a difference,'' Mr. Garrett said.

ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH
Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete nge of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. The network has 18 hospitals and more than 500 patient care locations, which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers, physician practice locations, and a fitness and wellness center. With more than 35,000 team members and 7,000 physicians, Hackensack Meridian Health is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy and committed to the health and well-being of communities throughout New Jersey.

The network's notable distinctions include having more U.S. News-ranked hospitals than any other health system in New Jersey, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 2022-23. Hackensack University Medical Center is nationally-ranked by U.S. News & World Report in four specialties, more than any other hospital in New Jersey. Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, are ranked #1 in the state and top 20 in the Mid-Atlantic Region by U.S. News & World Report's 2022-23 Best Children's Hospital Report. Additionally, their combined nephrology program ranks in the top 50 in the United States.

To learn more, visit www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org.

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SOURCE Hackensack Meridian Health