Medical Legal Partnership


I really think to be effective in providing
health care, you can’t do that without understanding that people come to the clinic or to their
doctor with a whole host of other things on their back. They have poverty issues, they have personal
issues, and just addressing the medical issue that they have isn’t going to get that person
to where they need to be to have a better quality of life. Different folks have different resources,
and those gaps in legal resources can be just as profound and telling for patients’ health
as difficulty getting them needed medical services. Every low-income person in the United States
has an average of two to three legal issues that are unmet. Most of these folks don’t recognize that
their legal issues are legal in nature, so they’re not even seeking out those legal
services themselves. Medical Legal Partnership is a model where
we integrate legal professionals into the health care setting. At its most basic level, it’s like a provider
writing a prescription for a referral for legal services. That partnership allows you to address these
upstream issues for which lack of basic legal rights affect people’s health. I have a traumatic brain injury so I’m not
able to deal with the the activities that that disability interferes with. And so housing became an enormous issue. I got taken in by an organization that supposedly
helps people, and got slotted into a property owned by them, and there was so many things
wrong with this place. And so, for three years, I was not permitted
to sleep, there was no hot water, I was physically attacked, under constant torment and harassment. And the director of that company dared me
to sue him. And I know that if I sue a landlord, I can’t
move. After I gave notice, my previous landlord
tried to evict me. And the eviction wouldn’t take effect until
after I was moved out. But the effect that it would have was have
me be removed from the Section 8 program, and then I would be homeless. Homeless with TBI, with cancer. I mean that would be it. That’s over. If hadn’t been for MLP – and it’s not
an exaggeration – I would probably be dead now. I probably would. So, it was a real lifesaver for me. We were able to step in and help her get that
eviction set aside so she was able to deal with the safety issues in her current situation,
and then move into a situation that was much better for her long term. And that had this trickle-down effect of reducing
anxiety, stress, hopefully helping her with her day-to-day activities, and just being
stable and able to do what matters most to her. I’d forgotten what it felt like to not be
hypervigilant and terrified. So, I feel safe. I hear laughter. There’s sunlight. I’m free to come and go. I can now start to move forward where before
it was just a matter of not dying. My entire life was about not dying today. So now I have a life. We have not talked to anyone in the health
care setting that hasn’t wanted this immediately upon understanding the concept. And the legal community is really supportive
of what we’re doing. We’ve run into numerous attorneys in private
practice who have offered to give pro bono assistance to clients if it’s outside of
our scope of competency. So, we’ve had overwhelming support from
basically every area touched by MLP, through the clients, through the health care team,
the legal teams, and ancillary services too.

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