Daughters of Charity Health Center in New Orleans has partnered with a legal services agency to better help patients by addressing the social determinants of health. This medical-legal partnership is part of a growing trend that’s taking place across the nation.
By Katy Reckdahl
“Sierra Barkgy knew nothing about legal aid lawyers until about a year ago. She was sitting in the waiting room at the Daughters of Charity Health Center in New Orleans when Elena Perez, a lawyer, walked in.
Perez announced that the health center had just launched something called a medical-legal partnership, and as a result, she now had an office at the clinic and could help patients resolve all sorts of legal issues, including those involving landlords and housing, public benefits, unemployment, taxes, and special education designation in schools.
Barkgy’s ears perked up. Shortly afterward, she pulled out the phone number she’d been given that day, called legal aid attorney Hannah Adams at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) and asked a few questions about a matter concerning her child. Though Barkgy didn’t pursue that issue any further, the brief connection with Adams proved to be a lifeline.”