HOUSTON, TX (July 30, 2021) – Today, in recognition of the United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, St. Luke’s Health announces a new collaboration, Helping Hands, with Marriott International’s Houston Business Council, in support of victims of human trafficking who receive healthcare at any St. Luke’s Health facility. In this new collaboration, properties in the Marriott portfolio in Houston will provide donations of toiletries and other personal items to any victims of human trafficking identified within St. Luke’s Health hospitals in the greater Houston area.
St. Luke’s has trained more than 9,000 employees across Texas since the passage of legislation in 2019 by the Texas legislature, which requires all health care practitioners in the state to take continuing education courses to learn how to identify and provide appropriate care to people who are victims of this horrific crime.
The International Labour Organization estimated that more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking and forced marriage. About 25% of trafficking globally involves children, according to UNICEF. Trafficking involves not only the sexual exploitation by others for financial gain, but also the forced labor of men and women of all ages.
Texas is among the top three states (along with California and New York) for cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. A 2016 study from the University of Texas at Austin estimates there are 300,000 human trafficking victims in Texas. The study identifies 79,000 victims of sex trafficking and 234,000 victims of labor trafficking. But this only represents a fraction of the real numbers. Human trafficking, by its nature, makes data challenging to ascertain.
“Our collaboration with Marriott’s Houston Business Council is only one example of the work of our care providers in addressing human trafficking in all its forms and helping the people who are victimized by this crime to heal and recover,” said CEO of St. Luke’s Health, Doug Lawson, Ph.D. St. Luke’s Health is also a founding member of the PATH Collaborative, a partnership of medical and community-based organizations in the Greater Houston Area working to identify and assist trafficked individuals in Texas.
Marriott International is actively working to help combat human trafficking in the hospitality industry. Since 2017, the company has instituted mandatory training for all its hotel workers in identifying the potential visible and invisible warning signs of human trafficking and working with trained law enforcement in responding to suspected criminal behavior and ensuring a victim-centered response. To date, more than 850,000 associates have completed the training.
“We recognize that hotels can be unwilling venues for human trafficking, and we care deeply about addressing this issue in a meaningful way,” said Ramon Ventura, Chair of Marriott’s Houston Business Council and General Manager of the JW Marriott Houston. “While human trafficking awareness training is a key component of our efforts to prevent human trafficking, local initiatives, like this exciting new collaboration in Houston, are also essential to raise awareness and support survivors in the communities where we live and work.”
About St. Luke’s Health – Texas Division
St. Luke’s Health is a fully-integrated network that provides care to the communities in Greater Houston, East Texas, and the Brazos Valley through 16 acute care hospitals and over 270 access points including numerous urgent care centers, freestanding emergency departments, and clinics conveniently located across the region. With a team of 11,000 employees and caregivers and more than 5,000 physicians, St. Luke’s Health is dedicated to a mission of enhancing community health through high-quality, cost-effective care. A joint venture with Baylor College of Medicine, St. Luke’s Health operates Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Texas Medical Center, a leading academic health center with quaternary care and advanced specialists. St. Luke’s Health is part of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. CommonSpirit was created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. Learn more at StLukesHealth.org.
About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 133 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.
About Marriott International’s Houston Business Council
Marriott’s Houston Business Council is made up of General Managers and other associates from across all brands and business functions in the Houston area. Marriott International’s worldwide network of nearly 200 Business Councils work on shared business challenges, as well as community and government affairs opportunities, to collectively achieve a stronger impact in a specific city, state, country, or region. The Houston Business Council meets quarterly, leads cross-brand, market-driven initiatives, and engages in events and activities that create a positive and sustainable impact in the local community.