Legal and medical partnerships that serve low-income individuals are becoming more ordinary in the state. More and more health care clinics tend to add on-site attorneys to their own teams of nurses and doctors so as to provide legal advice for free.
About 20 years ago, the first legal-medical partnership in the state was established. According to the Public Radio News of the state, the first ever of such institution was at the Community University Health Care Center. The Whittier Clinic built a partnership in 2013, while the next partnership started this spring at one of St. Cloud’s clinics. The law school of Hamline is likewise working on setting up the same relationship with a clinic at St. Paul.
Legal Aid Carrie Graf is amongst the lawyers helping around 500 Whittier Clinic patients, regarding the legal issues associated with their health. Such arrangements are truly gaining traction, considering the health care reform, which has prompted clinics and hospitals to examine patients more closely. Graf said that there had been realizations of providing great care that are affordable, the circumstances contributing to the patient’s health should be looked into.
Graf was contacted by a Whittier Clinic nurse practitioner, hoping the lawyer could help one of their patients. Eric Campbell, 44, had his diabetes worsen last summer due to an unexpected $130 cut to his county food support. The lawyer and the patient met. Graf checked Campbell’s medical records and confirmed that the county had mistakenly computed his food support payment.
Campbell said he was forced to consume mostly starchy foods when his food support payments suddenly decreased by over two-thirds. Campbell said he tried to speak with the county, however, failed to make any progress. Campbell’s blood glucose level increased so high and his kidneys began to fail as well.
After Graf was contacted by Campbell, the lawyer was able to get in touch with the county officials. She convinced them to restore the patient’s food support payments. Through several conversations between Graf and the county officials, it turned out that an error occurred, while the officials were making around 200 food stamp recipients.
Graf explained that these individuals are living right on the edge of being unable to feed them. Meanwhile, Campbell was so relieved when the conversation and transaction turned out positive at its end as he has been very worried not to sustain his medication and proper food supply.
While health care providers and lawyers consider the benefits of expanding and maximizing the legal-health partnerships for low-income people, there are still several issues that need attention. Mainly, the lack of funding for these projects still remain a significant challenge, Graf said.
Despite the lack of funding, still there are several health care providers and legal service providers that strive in working hand-in-hand so as to offer more and better support to low-income and needy people throughout the state. They remain positive in both starting and continuing their programs, advocacies, and goals that are geared towards the unnoticed, less fortunate, and needy community members.