MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The president and CEO of Navicent Health, Dr. Saunders, and the hospital’s Center for Learning are addressing the nation’s human trafficking problem by raising awareness, which they hope leads to activation.
Wednesday, hospital staff, community members, activists and city officials filled Eversole Auditorium.
Navicent Health hosted the inaugural Conference to End Human Trafficking — a calculated move to strengthen partnerships.
Kristina Austin is the manager of the Center for Learning at Navicent Health. She explained why the hospital held the conference.
“We wanted to coordinate our efforts with our community partners so that we weren’t just operating independently, but together we can accomplish more,” Austin said.
The audience heard human trafficking advocate organizations, law enforcement and a woman who shared her story of growing up in a home where her father exploited her sexually.
Macon-Bibb District Attorney David Cooke says the conference serves multiple purposes.
“I think events like this are important because they not only raise awareness among the public. But it helps train first responders so they can do a better job on how they help these victims and prevent them from being victims to begin with,” Cooke said.
First responders had a morning full of tips and testimony, but training doesn’t stop there.
“It’s important that our employees be competent in the jobs and their roles, so we do a lot of life support training for our nurses, so they have the skills and competency for our patients,” Austin said.
Even more so, the hospital is enriching its partnerships.
“What Navicent does, although they are obviously the host, they’ve partnered with people like us and other law enforcement agencies. And I think partnerships are the key to us reducing trafficking in our area,” Cooke said.
Macon’s Mayor Robert Reichart did not attend the conference, however, he had someone from his office speak on his behalf.
Mayor Reichart calls the human trafficking problem “modern day slavery.” He also declared January as Human Trafficking Awareness month in Macon-Bibb County.
Resources for human trafficking victims
Human Trafficking Hotline – 888.373.7888
Crescent House – 478.633.7044
Crisis Line & Safe House – 478.745.9292
Out of Darkness – 404.941.6024
Traffick Jam – 478.396.7405