WIFR TV: Mercyhealth Hosts Annual Pediatric Conference in Rockford

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — Working to better the connection and communication between patients and providers, MercyHealth kicks off its fifth annual Northern Illinois Perinatal, Neonatal And Pediatric Conference in Rockford.

“Exploitation is essentially a person abusing their power and exploiting someone’s vulnerability and taking advantage of someone’s weakness,” said Brittney Fry, Lead Advocate for RAASE.

With the two-event holding workshops dedicated to all aspects of maternity, from conception and beyond, one workshop highlighted the severity of an issue impacting a growing number of women: human trafficking.

“For a lot of survivors that I’ve talked to, medical staff are sometimes the only people that they ever have alone to be able to disclose the violence that’s occurring to them and sometimes is the only person they’re allowed to go to without their trafficker or pimp or the only place that they feel they could safely share that information. So the more than nursing staff, medical staff are aware of the potential risk factors, the better they’ll be able to identify those survivors and then link up with appropriate services,” said Fry.

By offering nurses and social workers tools and resources to better serve their patients, those attending say they can work to empower those suffering and help them overcome their circumstances.

“You’re not alone, so there is definitely support out there, you know, in-person support, support over the telephone, 24-hour crisis phone numbers that you can call. Don’t be afraid to reach out, to ask questions, we’re just here, here for you,” said Alissa Otto, licensed clinical social worker, Mercyhealth.

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