Partnership Expanded to Help with Legal Issues that Impact Health

Partnership Expanded to Help with Legal Issues that Impact Health

Launched in 2008, the Eskenazi Health Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) has announced plans to expand to serve additional patients through a new partnership with Taft Stettinius & Hollister. The program works to improve health outcomes by helping patients manage legal issues that impact their health.

The MLP was created 14 years ago when Eskenazi Health, along with Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and several other entities pooled their resources. To date, the MLP has provided legal assistance to more than 2,500 Eskenazi Health patients. The Eskenazi Health MLP partners include Indiana Legal Services, Faegre Drinker, the Joseph Maley Foundation and now Taft.

“Taft is pleased to partner with Eskenazi Health in serving Hoosier families in need,” said Monica A. Fennell, Taft pro bono director. “These medical-legal partnerships are much-needed in the community, and Taft attorneys have already stepped up to take pro bono guardianships.”

Taft recently joined the effort to assist with pro bono guardianships for families of young adults with moderate to severe intellectual disability. Taft partner Sarah Jenkins and Faegre Drinker attorney Jason Rauch, along with Mary Ciccarelli, M.D. medical director of the Center for Youth & Adults with Conditions of Childhood (CYACC) at Eskenazi Health conducted training for attorneys and paralegals to take pro bono guardianship cases for incapacitated young adults who need extensive ongoing support from their loved ones.

“Guardianship is not appropriate in all scenarios, and extensive effort is made to maximize a young adult’s autonomy whenever possible,” said Anna Kirkman, associate chief counsel for Eskenazi Health. “But in some circumstances, a diagnosis of intellectual disability is severe enough that a guardianship is necessary to keep the person safe. In those circumstances, family guardianship can ensure continuity of care and sense of stability. It can be a huge relief for families who have been anticipating the need for this for many years.”

The MLP assists with a broad range of barriers that impact a person’s health and have civil legal remedies. Common MLP matters involve consumer rights, landlord/tenant disputes, family guardianship needs, and criminal expungement, to name a few. In the past quarter alone, nearly 800 attorney hours were spent on Eskenazi Health MLP work.

Other initiatives of the MLP have included the Housing Rights & Eviction Helpline. This program was created due to instability in rental housing during COVID-19, and landlord/tenant matters continue to be the number one patient legal need at Eskenazi Health. The Housing Rights & Evictions Helpline, made possible by the Eskenazi Health Foundation, allows eligible Eskenazi Health callers to receive direct legal advice by phone to address rental-related legal issues. The Housing Rights & Evictions Helpline program also has a series of educational videos called “Knowing Your Rights as an Indiana Renter,” which are available on the Eskenazi Health YouTube page. Patients are empowered to become better advocates for themselves by learning about their basic housing rights.

Category Business Buzz, Health