267445 Preventive Law as Preventive Medicine: The Medical-Legal Partnership Model

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shannon Mace, JD, MPH , Health Reform and Health Equity Unit, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), Philadelphia, PA
Daniel Atkins, JD , Health, Education and Legal assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership (HELP: MLP), Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, DE
Martha Romney, RN, MS, JD, MPH , Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Rickie O. Brawer, PhD MPH , Center for Urban Health, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
The Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) model is an effective method to address complex social determinants improving the health and well-being of individuals in need. Nationally, MLPs have been established in a variety of settings, including over 235 healthcare institutions. While MLP attorneys often provide imminent critical legal interventions to remedy a crisis after it happens, MLPs also deliver preventive legal services to avert detrimental events. In addition to providing direct legal services, MLPs focus on providing collaborative care, increasing the advocacy capacity of healthcare staff, and advocating for systemic policy change. Health, Education and Legal Assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership (HELP: MLP) is a collaboration between Crozer-Keystone Healthy Start, ChesPenn Health Services, and Widener University School of Law. HELP: MLP serves clients in Chester, Pennsylvania, one of the nation's poorest cities. Legal and social work staff collaborate to remedy a variety of issues faced by clients including housing, public benefits, and domestic violence. Additionally, HELP: MLP staff utilize a legal needs screening tool to identify issues and provide preventive legal services including thwarting utility shut-offs, termination of benefits, and evictions. Since its inception in 2009, HELP: MLP has resolved over 200 legal issues, conducted more than 15 trainings for health care and social work providers and has educated more than 20 students from multiple disciplines. Moreover, results from program evaluation conducted by public health faculty at Thomas Jefferson University show that HELP: MLP services have been successful in reducing client stress and increasing provider knowledge and advocacy capacity.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how the Medical-Legal Partnership model can improve health outcomes by addressing harmful social determinants through legal advocacy. 2. Describe the value of incorporating a legal needs screening tool in healthcare and social service setting to identify and address unmet legal needs. 3. Describe the process and impact evaluation tools and strategies that can be integrated into a Medical-Legal Partnership.

Keywords: Advocacy, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Public Health Law Specialist for HELP: MLP and have worked with the project since 2007.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.