Article looks at the medical-legal partnership between Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and Family Care Health Centers, and how together they are helping patients.
By Durrie Bouscaren
“Your doctor can refer you to a specialist … but what if she could refer you to free legal help, too?
In St. Louis, attorneys for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri are making the rounds at community health clinics to help patients whose health issues may need a legal remedy.
‘I just think it’s the future of where medical care is going. Doctors can treat symptoms but there’s certain social issues that they can’t treat, so that’s where we can step in,’ staff attorney Lauren Hamvas said during an outreach session at Family Care Health Centers in the Carondelet neighborhood of St. Louis.
At any point in time, Hamvas and her colleagues represent about a hundred people in the St. Louis region who came to them through the program. Hundreds more have come in for consultations. They handle issues like disputes with landlords, if mold or roaches are affecting a tenant’s health. Sometimes clients ask for help to resolve challenges filing for Medicaid or Social Security benefits.
Sometimes, patients will reveal information to their doctor that they won’t tell anyone else. In one case, program director Amanda Schneider worked with a patient who was trying to leave an abusive relationship.”