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Nurse-led medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) incorporate lawyers into the health care team to overcome barriers to patient health. When patients access more solutions to health problems, they have healthier lives, families, and communities. NNCC also manages a local program based on MLPs, the Nursing-Legal Partnership.
Nurse-led health centers provide our nation’s most vulnerable populations with access to high-quality, affordable health care. However, health is impacted not only by bio-medical factors but also by the social and physical environments in which patients live. That is why NNCC’s network of nurse-managed health centers (NMHCs) is always incorporating new ways to meet the needs of communities they serve.
For more information about MLPs, visit the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership. To stay informed about MLPs around the country, sign up for the Medical-Legal Partnership Update, a twice-monthly newsletter from the National Center.
Medical-Legal Partnership and Health Centers: Addressing Patients’ Health-Harming Civil Legal Needs as Part of Primary Care
Although NMHCs operate in a range of settings, clinic staff describe seeing many of the same problems: unsafe housing, food and income insecurity, limited educational opportunities, personal safety concerns, and more. NMHCs have addressed these needs in a variety of ways - community education programs, social work case management, and assistance with public benefits applications. However, in many cases there is an overlooked solution to these issues: the law. When problems have legal solutions, they become “legal needs.” Not surprisingly, the average low-income family has multiple legal needs, 80% of which go unmet by existing legal services.
In 2013, NNCC received funding from the Kresge Foundation for a three-year project to incorporated legal services into nurse-led primary care settings. The "Nurse-MLP Initiative" was a partnership between the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC), Philadelphia's Legal Clinic for the Disabled (LCD), Family Practice and Counseling Network (FPCN), and the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships (NCMLP). Through the Nurse-led MLP Initiative, two NNCC members--Eastern Tennessee State University and the University of Akron--received seed funding to plan and implement MLPs in their health centers. Most of the resources shared below were created through the Nurse-led MLP Initiative in partnership with the NCMLP and Community Health Partners for Sustainability (CHPFS).
Patricia Vanhook, APRN, PhD, FNP-BC, John Orzechowzeki, BA, MTS, Trish Aniol, and Rachel Clifton, BA
The webinar focused on developing a MLP practice in a rural setting, where the distance between legal and health partners in up to five hours, and the availability of services for low-income patients is scarce. Using tele-technology to communicate between partners, and elevating the combined health and legal priority of children's healthcare insurance access and optimization, the East Tennessee MLP has tackled some of the common challenges of rural MLPs, and brought new solutions to rural MLP practice.
Also presented at the 11th Annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit: MLP in the Rural Health Center Context – Lessons on Tele-technology and Priority Setting. 11th Annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 6-8, 2016. (peer reviewed).
Sherry Thomas, Esq., Theresa Brabson, Esq. and Mudit Gilotra, MD
The webinar focuses on the connections between housing conditions, affordability and health.
Our panelists shared with participants their experiences of screening for housing and habitability issues, the challenges of getting buy-in from healthcare providers and systems change. Specifically, Dr. Gilotra shared his experience, from the perspective of a healthcare provider, of developing protocol at his primary care site. Theresa Brabson shared how her team at St. Chris effectuated system change at St. Christopher’s Hospital through training and clear-cut protocols. The implementation of a clear-cut protocol allowed providers to focus on treating their patients instead of making judgment calls re: medical certifications for patients whose utilities were shut-off or in danger of being shut off.
James Teufel, MPH, PhD
Sarah Rabin-Lobron, CRNP, Ellen Lawton, JD, and Alicia Turlington, MD