Medical-Legal Partnerships and July 2015 eNewsletter

A little girl who lives in a run-down apartment full of black mold can be treated for her asthma forever without getting any better.  Her doctor can’t force her landlord to remove the mold that’s causing the problem, but a lawyer can.  Likewise, a lawyer can’t prescribe the medicine to treat the pain of chronic disease for an elderly man, but she can fight to ensure the patient’s electricity stays on so he can keep his medications refrigerated.  A disabled veteran denied handicap-accessible housing will face further medical trouble because of his poor housing situation.  A diabetic woman denied access to food stamps will face complications because of her inability to obtain healthy foods.  These are the people medical-legal partnerships will help.
A study by the National Center for Medical Legal Partnerships shows that 1 in 6 people needs legal help to live a healthy life.  For those living in poverty like LAF’s clients, legal issues can exacerbate their chronic health problems, and health issues can trigger legal problems.   Medical-legal partnerships allow lawyers and doctors to work together to address the causes and consequences of illness and build a path to long-term health.
LAF has partnerships ongoing and in development across Cook County – with the Howard Brown Health Center,  Provident Hospital, and the Chicago Department of Public Health and Cook County Hospital System.  These groundbreaking projects are bold, local, data-driven approaches to improving health and fighting poverty for the people of Chicagoland.
Carrie Chapman, Director of LAF’s Public Benefits Practice Group, explains: “Medical-legal partnerships offer us a new way to fight poverty and be a part of making lasting changes in our clients’ lives.  By embedding our work within a medical team, we can help our clients be healthier, and healthier clients can take advantage of education, training, and job opportunities and achieve real economic stability.”

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