Our partnership serves people and communities by promoting health and well-being while combating health-harming social conditions. We achieve this through three key advocacy strategies: free civil legal assistance in a clinical setting; ongoing training and education for medical and legal providers; and systemic advocacy for change.
A primary component of the Toledo MLPC is the delivery of legal assistance and representation to low-income children and their families in a clinical setting. Since families make regular visits to their pediatrician, medical providers are in an excellent position to screen for legal issues having a negative effect on health outcomes, including problems with income, housing, safety, medical insurance, or education.
Research shows health and well-being improve when a family's legal needs are met. A survey conducted by the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership found that more than half of healthcare providers reported improved health outcomes, improved patient engagement and treatment adherence, and reduced stress for their patients as a result of providers' participation in a medical-legal partnership.
An essential part of a medical-legal partnership is the relationship between lawyers and medical care providers. Lawyers provide physicians, residents, nurses, and social workers with the knowledge necessary to screen patients for legal problems and to assess the social and environmental determinants of their patients' health and welfare. Attorneys also provide guidance, resources, tools, and strategies to intervene and advocate for patients.
Physicians and other healthcare providers familiarize attorneys with healthcare environments and educate them about the healthcare system, its challenges, and patient needs. Together, these professionals represent an integrated, holistic approach to care for children and their families.
Social conditions including housing, education, and access to healthcare are factors that affect public health. The MLPC works to influence the systems, programs, and policies that impact the health and well-being of children and their families with the goal of bringing about positive change in local, state, and national policies and regulations. Recent examples of advocacy and legal intervention include testimony to the Ohio House of Representatives Education Committee on the effects of extended school removals for children with mental health needs; creation of outreach and education material to support improved access to healthcare and healthy housing for children; investigation and targeted interventions in geographic clusters of childhood asthma; and the drafting of legislation to reduce lead exposure in children. As part of this advocacy work, the MLPC participates in a wide range of community coalitions and works with a number of community partners to increase positive health and well-being outcomes for children.
Legal aid attorneys have also successfully integrated recurring, systemic issues that affect low-income MLPC clients into their practice. In the course of providing legal assistance to clients, MLPC attorneys have identified systemic education advocacy, access to healthcare for Medicaid eligible children, and access to healthy, stable homes as significant areas of need in this community. Reducing health disparities remains a key goal of the MLPC.