RIGHT TO HEALTH PROJECT
You don’t always think of doctors and lawyer working together on a regular basis. But sometimes, recurring health problems can be caused by substandard housing conditions and those health problems can be best served by addressing the root cause with proper legal advice and action, not just antibiotics.
In 2010, Bet Tzedek Legal Services and Saint Francis Medical Center, part of Daughters of Charity Health System, formed a medical-legal partnership – the Right to Health Project (RHP). Under this partnership, Bet Tzedek provides free legal services to the communities served by SFMC on the medical center’s campus. Community members are referred to the program by SFMC’s Health Benefits Resource Center, a one-stop program that connects families with government benefits, or medical staff, who can screen them for legal problems affecting their health. Other key components of the project are the training of SFMC staff by RHP staff to recognize legal issues community members may be facing and the collaboration of medical and legal staff to work to solve systemic legal issues in the community. The overarching goal of the partnership is to help community members live healthier, better-quality lives by addressing legal issues affecting their health and well-being.
The Right to Health Project has assisted hundreds of clients. Cases have included issues involving housing, benefits, guardianship, employment, and consumer matters. Among the many positive outcomes that have been achieved for clients include an award of over $25,000 in relocation assistance for a client and his family being unlawfully evicted and, in another case, securing a guardianship for a grandmother raising her grandson so she could legally make important decisions on his behalf.