Medical-Legal Partnership Launched By Beth Israel Lahey Health and Lawyers for Civil Rights

August 23, 2023

New Medical-Legal Partnership Will Help Address Health Disparities

BOSTON - Today, Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH) and Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) announced the launch of a new medical-legal partnership that will provide free legal support to low-income patients, beginning at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). Medical-legal partnerships are an innovative way to integrate free legal support into clinical settings. The collaboration will expand BILH's ability to address health equity and expand access to health care for patients living in under-resourced communities.

LCR’s HealthJustice Project will be embedded in select primary care practices to provide free compassionate, high-quality legal assistance, in collaboration with primary care community resource workers, to patients in need—including people with disabilities, those who are underinsured, and those who struggle to meet medical costs —to ensure they have access to the best possible outcomes.

The partnership will focus on the most vulnerable patients. As part of an integrated primary care team that includes clinical staff, social workers, and patient navigators, LCR and BILH will partner to promote access to legal services and improve health equity by intervening to address social determinants of health. Together, the medical and legal team will identify and address legal issues with the goal of empowering patients to live healthier lives and improve health outcomes.

In collaboration with the patient’s care team and other providers, LCR will engage in a broad range of holistic advocacy efforts—representing patients in court, negotiating with landlords, advocating before administrative agencies—all with the aim of improving health outcomes by addressing a broad range of health-adjacent issues. The partnership will focus on tackling poverty, housing insecurity, discrimination, and immigration issues.

“This new partnership with LCR will help address health-related social needs for some of our most vulnerable patients. We hope to be able to connect more patients to critical resources like legal services to address housing eviction and to other supports, which will help improve their overall health,” said Juan Fernando Lopera, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, BILH.

“In essence, our legal intervention is an extension of healthcare. The lawyers complement the medical intervention. Legal representations will take many forms—from helping an elderly client secure Social Security benefits to representing a family whose apartment is contaminated with lead paint,” said Myraida Claros (née Melendez), the Director of LCR’s HealthJustice Initiative.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with BILH. Through close coordination between attorneys, doctors, primary care staff, and community partners, we will tackle the complex intersections of race, immigration, poverty, healthcare, and the law to support the most vulnerable in our community,” added LCR’s Executive Director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal.

About Beth Israel Lahey Health

Beth Israel Lahey Health is a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,700 physicians and 39,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.

Director, Media Relations

Sarah Finlaw

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