Meeting daily needs

Brea* moved to a new apartment only to find her home was infested with bedbugs. She contacted the landlord many times but nothing was done and both Brea and her daughter were covered in bites. Brea wanted to move out. However, she was afraid she would be penalized for breaking her lease and end up with an eviction on her record, which would make obtaining new housing very hard. With the help of Doctors & Lawyers for Kids, Brea was able to get out of her lease and move to sanitary housing without negative legal impacts for her family.

*Names are not real.

Stable Family

Emmie* has one child, 8-year-old Amalie*. Emmie’s relationship with Amalie’s father has been over since 2011 but he has continued to abuse and threaten both of them. He also forced Emmie to miss a lot of work by filing numerous motions that required her presence in court. She lost one job because of this and was afraid she would be fired again. Emmie was frustrated that she hadn’t been able to protect her daughter or gain sole custody since she couldn’t afford a lawyer.

With the help of Doctors & Lawyers for Kids, she was granted a no contact domestic violence order and sole custody of Amalie. The court also granted her request to suspend her ex’s parenting time. Emmie can now parent her child in a loving and stable environment.

*Names are not real.

Doctors & Lawyers for Kids begins medical-legal partnership at Family Health Centers, Inc.

(Louisville, KY) The Family Health Centers, Inc. has joined the Doctors & Lawyers for Kids in a medical-legal partnership.  Doctors & Lawyers for Kids now offers free civil legal aid to improve the health and well-being of children and families seen at Family Health Centers – Portland. FHC received grant funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support this new initiative to help address patients’ complex social needs that can impact health.

“Many of the patients we care for have problems that extend past medicine into the legal realm that we are just not equipped to handle,” states Bill Wagner, CEO of Family Health Centers.  “As a health care organization that focuses on the whole-person, we cannot ignore issues such as eviction notices or custody cases, especially if these situations are preventing you from being able to take care of yourself or your family.”

Doctors & Lawyers for Kids is a joint project of the Legal Aid Society, the Louisville Bar Association and UofL Pediatrics. Since the partnership was formed in 2012, more than 300 patients from University of Louisville general and subspecialty pediatrics practices and Kosair Children’s Hospital have been provided with free, health-related legal counseling referred during their routine doctor visits.

“This new partnership extends our ability to reach our community’s most vulnerable children,” says Martha Hasselbacher, president, Doctors & Lawyers for Kids. “Sometimes it takes more than a doctor’s care and a prescription to insure good health. We train health care providers to recognize patients’ legal issues so that we can help resolve them early, before a family is in crisis, before a family ends up living in a car, before a toddler burns his hand on the stove because there is no heat, before a child who is not getting legally-required school services gives up and drops out.”

Beginning in January 2016, the Doctors & Lawyers for Kids legal staff will spend two to three days a week in the Family Health Center – Portland. Providers will identify legal needs that affect patients’ health, refer patients to the attorneys on-site, and the attorneys will address those needs, participating as part of the medical team.

Typical cases will include:

  • Income Supports Child support, SSI/SDI, Medicaid, wage garnishment, bankruptcy
  • Housing & Utilities Unsafe housing conditions, eviction, foreclosure, utilities shut off, Section 8, public housing
  • Education & Childcare Special education, bullying, individualized education plans
  • Legal Status Refugee status, naturalization, emergency visas, government benefits, eligibility issues
  • Personal Safety & Stability Child custody/support, guardianship, domestic violence orders, divorce

Personal injury, medical malpractice and criminal cases will not be taken. Cases are either handled on site by Doctors & Lawyers for Kids legal staff, or by volunteer lawyers from the community who provide free legal services for our clients through the Louisville Pro Bono Consortium.

Doctors & Lawyers for Kids was conceived in 2009 when the Louisville Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society tapped Hasselbacher, a retired general counsel at Norton Healthcare, professor of Health Law at the UofL Brandeis School of Law and past president of the Louisville Bar Association and Legal Aid Society, to look into a medical-legal partnership for the
Louisville community.

“While popular culture portrays doctors and lawyers as adversaries, we can be a powerful force for our community’s neediest when we work together,” she said. “Adding the Family Health Centers to our team makes us even more accessible to the indigent in our community.”

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Family Health Centers, Inc. (FHC) is a not-for-profit community health center who provides access to high quality primary and preventive health care services to everyone.  Our vision of service is to provide you and your family with the same care and attention we would want for our families and ourselves.   Family Health Centers is one of the largest primary care providers in the state, serving more than 37,000 individuals annually through a network of seven health center locations throughout Louisville Metro.  Learn more at www.fhclouisville.org

Doctors & Lawyers for Kids is a medical-legal partnership that joins the Legal Aid Society, the Louisville Bar Association, UofL Pediatrics and Family Health Centers, Inc., connecting the medical and legal professions to address the legal needs that affect the health and welfare of children and their families. Medical-legal partnerships exist in more than 250 health care institutions in more than 36 states. Each year, they help 60,000-plus patients resolve health-related legal issues.

 

Tennessee Bar Association Shows Support for MLP

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Board of Governors has adopted a resolution that encourages the legal community to establish, develop and maintain medical-legal partnerships in collaboration with medical and health care organizations. The resolution can be found here. In the past, similar recommendations have been made by the American Bar Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and several state bar associations.