WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Legislation written by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) to help physicians and health care workers better identify human trafficking victims was passed by the New York State Senate on Tuesday, and will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.
Paulin’s bill would require every general hospital, public health center, diagnostic center, treatment center or outpatient department to establish written policies and procedures for the identification, assessment and appropriate treatment or referral of persons suspected of being human trafficking victims, along with training for physicians, nurses and other clinical care personnel regarding those policies and procedures.
“Trafficking victims may at some point seek treatment from a health care facility, such as a hospital, public health center, outpatient department or treatment center,” Paulin said. “We need to ensure that the health professionals who are most likely to come into contact with a potential trafficking victim are trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking so that they know what to do to provide the appropriate care and referral to help the victim escape her or his life of violence and enslavement.”
Signs of trafficking include bruises, tattoos, branding such as barcodes, dollar signs and names of male captors, scars, burns and orthopedic trauma, as well as psychological signs such as extreme anxiety, PTSD symptoms, anger and belligerency.
“The health care facility where the victim is permitted by her trafficker to seek medical services may be our best and only chance to identify a trafficking victim and free her from the vicious cycle of pain, suffering and degradation,” Paulin said.
State Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island, sponsored the bill in the Senate.