Spokane Medical-Legal Partnership

Spokane Medical-Legal Partnership

The Spokane Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) integrates legal advocacy into healthcare. Doctors, medical residents, and healthcare staff are trained to identify “health-harming legal needs” and how these issues can be addressed – including referrals to on-site lawyers and legal interns.

For example, a girl is presenting with symptoms of asthma. After asking a few simple questions, the physician assistant treating the young woman determines that mold and lack of adequate heat in the home might be contributing to the problem. The PA makes a referral to the MLP attorney, who contacts the landlord to advise him of his legal responsibilities and the necessary repairs are made. Instead of regular nebulizer treatments, now the girl’s symptoms can be managed with infrequent use of an inhaler. The cost of care goes down and the patient’s quality of life goes up.

The Spokane Medical-Legal Partnership is a unique project involving the  Empire Health Foundation, Providence Family Medicine Residency Clinic, Providence Internal Medicine Residency Clinic, Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane Teaching Health Center, and the Center for Justice. This multidisciplinary collaboration not only helps clients, it is also trains future doctors and lawyers about the impact social determinants of health have on the cycle of poverty.

On Jan. 12, 2015, a new six-member community collaborative began providing free in-clinic legal services to address the legal needs compromising the health of low-income individuals in our community. To read more about this exciting partnership, please click here.

For more information about medical-legal partnerships, click here.