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Speaking Engagement at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center

In what is to be the first of many such opportunities, Richmond Justice Initiative’s (RJI) Founder, Sara Pomeroy, held a lecture at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center on September 21st. The topic of her lecture: “A Look Beneath the Surface: The Role of Healthcare Providers in Identifying and Helping Victims of Human Trafficking”. Her goal was to primarily educate Emergency Room residents at the Medical Center on how to spot sex trafficking victims in their ERs, as well as elsewhere within the hospital.  The lecture was very well attended by medical students, Emergency Room residents, as well as by various Medical School faculty members.  Sara began her lecture with an introduction of how RJI began and a presentation overview. She then went on to explain such points as: understanding human trafficking; how victims are trafficked; who the victims of sex trafficking are; and understanding the mindset of a victim. Sara then went into depth discussing the Medical Assessment Tool  – what signs the physician needs to look for in identifying possible victims, and then the necessary response to take once a victim has been identified.  She also explained the importance of separating the victim from their handler for the purpose of questioning the patient further, in order to better assess their situation. What questions should and should not be asked of the patient were also stressed. In Sara’s final point, she discussed how to get the victims the help they need. The lecture was followed with a question and answer session, with many of those in attendance participating. Sara received a very well deserved round of applause at the end of the lecture. Sara stated, “I was so pleased with the response from the residents of shock, and genuine concern and care for these potential cases coming to their ER. They were asking many great questions with the intent to want to make sure they were doing everything according to protocol. I was blessed also with their gratitude and applause in the end, as well as for having this information! I am so excited to be invited back and am confident that this will result in rescue!” As a result of this speaking engagement, Sara was asked to be a part of the medical students’ regular “rotation”. According to some of the medical residents, such a request is a rare occurrence and only made if they felt the information was essential and informative. “I believe this brings us one step closer to fulfilling our mission by equipping these residents to not only identify victims of trafficking, but to place them in the hands of someone who can offer them rescue and services”, stated Sara.  – Tina Nyczepir

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