Medical-Legal Project at Blank Children's Hospital | Iowa

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Blank Children's Hospital

Medical-Legal Project

Because 1 in 6 people need legal care to be healthy.

Blank Children's Hospital has partnered with Iowa Legal Aid to provide free legal services to patients and their families served by Blank Children's Hospital.

Many legal problems are health problems. The social determinants of health - the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, play, and age, as well as the systems designed to improve health and treat illness - have significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Many of the social conditions at the root of poor health can be traced to laws that are unfairly applied or under-enforced, often leading to the improper denial of services and benefits that are designed to keep people healthy. The help of a lawyer can improve patient health.

The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership reports the following evidence-based outcome measures:

  • Improved patient health
  • Reduction in Emergency Department utilization
  • Reduction in hospitalizations
  • Improved patient and provider satisfaction
  • Improved benefit coverage and reimbursement

The MLP Approach to the Social Determinants of Health

The Medical-Legal Project (MLP) is an approach to health that integrates the work of health care professionals and attorneys to more effectively identify, treat and prevent health-harming legal needs for patients, clinics and populations. The MLP:

  • TRAINS health care professionals and legal teams to work collaboratively to identify patient and population health needs upstream before the health issues increase.
  • TREATS individual patients' health-harming social and legal needs with legal care ranging from triage and consultations, to legal representation.
  • TRANSFORMS clinical practice to better respond to patients' health-harming social and legal needs.
  • PREVENTS health-harming legal needs broadly by detecting patterns and improving policies that have an impact on population health.

Legal issues impacting health typically fall into the five (5) I-HELP categories

  • Income Supports Insurance - benefit eligibility, benefit denials, waivers, child support
  • Housing & Utilities - housing conditions, landlord disputes, foreclosure, utility assistance
  • Education & Employment - accommodations for a disability or return after hospitalization, FMLA
  • Legal Status - child custody, guardianship, immigration
  • Personal & Family Stability - child abuse, domestic violence

For direct legal services, please contact:

Kristie Kuntsman-Stern, JD
Iowa Legal Aid Attorney/Medical-Legal Project
1212 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
(515) 241-8254
kkstern@iowalaw.org

For program administration, please contact:

Chaney Yeast, LMSW, JD
Director of Government Relations & Medical-Legal Project
1200 Pleasant Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
(515) 241-4312
chaney.yeast@unitypoint.org