The National Center for Medical Legal Partnerships (MLP) defined these partnerships as an approach to health that integrates the knowledge and expertise of the health care community with the knowledge and expertise of legal professionals to address and prevent health-harming social and legal needs for patients, clinics and populations. By working together, health care, public health and legal institutions transform the health care system’s response to social determinants of health. MLPs are a facet to addressing the health of a population whose physical and psychological well-being are intricately tied to other aspects in their lives like social inequalities and legal issues.Legal Problems Are Health Problems
Many low-income individuals have unmet civil legal needs that create barriers to living a healthier lifestyle. For example, a person living in housing with mold or rodents or a senior who is denied benefits are both individuals with legal issues that negatively affect their health (“Documenting the Justice Gap”, The Legal Services Corporation, 2009). By addressing each of those needs, both health and legal issues, medical bills will be lowered and treatments can work more effectively.
While there has been a shift in the health care community toward incorporating strategies that focus on social determinants of health in that social workers and health care providers have begun working together to address and improve the health of these individuals, the civil legal needs have not been recognized as part of this movement. Despite a visible connection between a person’s health and their legal issues and that medical and legal aid offices have regularly treated the same individuals, there hasn’t been a concerted coordinated effort to address these issues until now. Medical-legal partnerships provide a new bridge to addressing health care.New Orleans Medical-Legal Assistance
In New Orleans, almost one-fourth of the population falls below the federal poverty line. In some parts of the New Orleans area, almost 40% of the population falls below 150% of the federal poverty line. The Louisiana Medical Legal Collaborative establishes medical legal partnerships in hospitals and clinics to help families in need due to issues with government benefits, debtor/creditor issues, housing, immigration, planning, and nutrition. We are also a resource for other MLPs working in the community throughout Louisiana by gathering resources, funding, and coordination of best practices.Serving the Community
Medical-legal partnerships address civil legal needs that adversely affect a population that is already disproportionately at or near the poverty level. By working together, the health care and legal community are better able to serve this population. Each MLP addresses the unique needs of the population and clinic or hospital it serves. Currently Mr. Graham works with several clinics and hospitals in the New Orleans metropolitan area:
If you are a health-care provider or an organization that would like to start a partnership with Attorney James A. Graham so we can work together on this issue, please call our office at 985.202.8110 or submit a request through our contact form online. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.