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.