A System-Level Approach to Addressing Health-Harming Legal and Social Needs

A System-Level Approach to Addressing Health-Harming Legal and Social Needs

The medical-legal partnership (MLP) approach seeks to embed patient-facing lawyers as part of the standard of health care to ensure that these factors are efficiently addressed. The largest medical-legal partnership in the country — between NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC Health + Hospitals) and the LegalHealth division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (LegalHealth) — embodies the importance of linking patients to crucial legal services in order to improve health and well-being by recognizing that good legal “care” is consistent with their mission. The medical-legal partnership serves as an example to other public or non-profit hospital systems that may be interested in incorporating legal services into a holistic strategy to address the health-harming social and other non-medical factors that affect their patients.

This case study is an outgrowth of a January 2018 webinar and a September 2018 site visit, both of which delved into the inner-workings of the NYC Health + Hospitals LegalHealth partnership for the purpose of understanding (1) how the use of patient-facing legal services fits into NYC Health + Hospitals leadership’s overall mission and (2) how LegalHealth structures a variety of legal clinics across the NYC Health + Hospitals system to meet the legal needs of many different types of marginalized patients.

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