Mayo Clinic Recognizes SMRLS, LAOC, and Partners With Shared Value Award

Rochester’s famed Mayo Clinic lauded Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and Legal Assistance of Olmsted County (LAOC) this month for their efforts to prevent evictions in Olmsted County. Along with collaborators Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Olmsted County District Court, LAOC and SMRLS received the 2018 Mayo Clinic Shared Value Award for their “Eviction Prevention” project.  

Mayo’s annual award addresses community-wide health priorities in Olmsted County, and the Eviction Prevention project is designed to help address financial stress and mental health.

Karen Fairbairn Nath, executive director of LAOC noted, “Once a notice of eviction is filed with the court, the eviction is permanently on an individual’s record and may, at minimum, prevent a person from obtaining future rental housing. This often brings on a cascading set of negative effects, including longer-term financial instability and mental health stress for individuals and families, among others.” Read more about the project and award.

MMLA's North Minneapolis Collaborations Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine

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Thanks to funding from philanthropic, social services, and government sources, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) has four new projects in two locations to serve the needs of North Minneapolis residents. 

At NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Legal Aid's newest medical-legal partnership had more than 50 patient referrals in the first two months, underscoring the unmet need.

"Referrals come directly from health care staff," says staff attorney, Glen Drew. "I see so many health concerns that neither doctors nor lawyers can solve on our own. This is an opportunity for us to ask the right questions and make some headway on broader social questions and problems."

Legal Aid's work in the NorthPoint Social Services building also includes an attorney-staffed economic development project that recently hosted a criminal expungement workshop. A few blocks away at 800 West Broadway, Legal Aid holds office hours several times a month for pro bono workshops, as well as a Hennepin County based project focused on eviction prevention.

Because of the partnership between neighborhood social service agencies and legal aid, northside residents can access legal help without taking extra time off work or paying for transportation downtown. They can meet with a lawyer in the same building where they receive other services, and with professionals they already trust. Read the full article in Attorney at Law Magazine: "Legal Aid and Community Partners Collaborate in North Minneapolis."

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services Releases Racial Justice Report to Community

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This spring, the Racial Justice Committee (RJC) of Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) released its 2017 Report to the Community.

The 2017 report highlights SMRLS'
ongoing involvement with several healthcare - legal partnerships, its expungement clinics work in St. Paul, and its “Know Your Rights” anti-offensive speech outreach events.

The annual report has three primary purposes:

  • Create awareness of how SMRLS is involved within the community;
  • Create awareness of the programs that SMRLS offers; and
  • Create awareness of the services that are available within the community.

The Racial Justice Committee serves to welcome all clients, encourage and support a diverse staff, and advocate effectively to eliminate barriers for persons of color and to ensure their equal access to and fair treatment by SMRLS and the legal system. Read the full report

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services and Children’s Minnesota Announce New Healthcare-Legal Partnership

 Brianna (Breezy) Boone, staff attorney, SMRLS

Brianna (Breezy) Boone, staff attorney, SMRLS

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and Children’s Minnesota (Children’s) have launched a new health care-legal partnership (HLP) to address legal issues that stand in the way of healthy kids and families.
 
SMRLS attorney Brianna Boone holds office hours five days a week at the Children’s St. Paul hospital campus, working alongside inpatient hospital and outpatient clinic staff. Ms. Boone assists patients and their families with a variety of legal needs, including issues related to housing, public benefits, immigration, and family law. Depending on the families’ situation, she provides a range of support from brief legal guidance to full representation in court. Patients receive increased access to protections and resources that allow them to meet their basic needs, leading to improved health and overall well-being.
 
Referrals are made to the HLP by members of the health care team, including social workers, community resource navigators, and health care providers. Ms. Boone meets with families during their child’s inpatient hospitalization, and with outpatient families who are on campus for follow-up clinic visits and routine appointments. “I can really see the direct benefit of working onsite at Children’s. Having an office on the hospital campus eliminates barriers to access that would prevent most families from receiving our help,” Ms. Boone said.

“At Children’s, we aim to be every family’s essential partner in raising healthier children, and oftentimes socioeconomic factors are barriers to doing so,” said Maria Christu, Children’s Chief Legal Officer. “Being able to connect our patients to a trusted partner like the HLP is a great step toward breaking down those barriers. This partnership brings tremendous value to our patients and their families and therefore, to our communities as well.”

In addition to working with patients and their families, Ms. Boone also consults with health care professionals across Children’s to provide education and training. During 2018, Children’s HLP will provide legal education opportunities on some of the most common legal issues impacting families including: rights of unmarried parents, a tenant’s right to housing repairs, and government benefits, such as food support and disability insurance. Through these education opportunities, SMRLS and Children’s hope to create a more holistic approach to addressing patients’ needs. Health care providers and social workers will become better equipped to support the social and economic issues affecting the immediate and ongoing health of their patients.
 
“We’ve only had this partnership since October and I’m already seeing its impact,” Ms. Boone said. “Creating a new way to treat all of a patient’s needs is exciting.”
 
To learn more about this health care-legal partnership, please contact SMRLS supervising attorney Meghan Scully at Meghan.Scully@SMRLS.org.