Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You're gonna need a good lawyer...

Your doctor isn’t always the best person to solve your medical problem. Sometimes, instead, it’s a lawyer!

Consider for instance the single mom with two boys, frustrated by their weekly asthma attacks and visits to VMC. They know darned well that it’s mold in their apartment walls that’s causing the asthma, yet her landlord wont’ do anything about it…even after their VMC pediatrician wrote a letter and left voice messages. Can you imagine how that feels?

Now, imagine that landlord getting a letter not from a doctor, but from an attorney, representing the two boys! This has proven time and again to get results, and so here’s what we’re launching at VMC: Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) has teamed up with the VMC Foundation and First 5, along with some prominent families in Silicon Valley, to start a “Medical Legal Partnership Clinic.”

Beginning today, an attorney will be available on-site at VMC’s pediatric clinic to help families solve problems as only lawyers can. Issues of custody, tenant;s rights, teen motherhood and more will be addressed immediately, and these issues so often have medical implications.

Medical Legal Partnerships have been around for a while, but ours is the first in the nation at a “county/public” medical center…which is ironic, since many of VMC’s patients deal with these kinds of issues all the time…and for too many, they often feel under-represented; that nobody has their back. Well, not anymore – not with this new initiative.

Huge thanks are in order, from Jolene at First 5, to VMC’s LeeAnna Botkin, M.D., to Jennifer Kelleher at LACY, and Steve Harris, M.D., the chair of VMC’s Pediatrics…and let’s not forget Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors who continue approving innovative programs like this one.

The results of our Medical Legal Partnership Clinic won't be known for a while, but they have a long history of success. We're pretty sure that, in the case I opened with, that landlord will make some repairs, and the boys' asthma will subside. That means better health for them, fewer missed days at school, and fewer visits to the doctor. Good for the kids, the family, VMC, and our whole community.

Now - who needs a good lawyer?

2 comments:

mskwheeler said...

Wow Chris - you never cease to amaze me. What an incredibly great idea. Congrats to everyone involved, especially the kids and families who will benefit!

-Kathy

ellawton said...

Chris,

Thanks for embracing this model and the skills that lawyers can bring to the medical setting. We look forward to hearing about your efforts. Welcome to the Medical-Legal Partnership Network!
Ellen Lawton
National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership