This year’s Medical-Legal Partnership awards honored programs in Cincinnati, Ohio and Washington, D.C. alongside advocates from Community Legal Aid Society in Delaware and the Iowa Primary Care Asssociation. (Click here to read about the 2016 MLP Leadership Award presented to the Office for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice and New York City Health + Hospitals.)
2016 Outstanding Medical-Legal Partnership Award
The Cincinnati Child Health-Law Partnership (Child HeLP) in Ohio and Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C. were honored on April 7, 2016, with the 2016 Outstanding MLP Award as part of the annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit in Indianapolis. The award was established in 2011, and is given annually to recognize medical-legal partnerships that exemplify the activities and integration of medical-legal partnership and demonstrate impact on health care clinic / institution practice.
Child HeLP was honored for its contributions to medical-legal partnership training and research. It developed an MLP and social determinants of health video training series that is housed on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ MedEd Portal, and is used widely by MLPs across the country. Child HeLP has also combined health and legal data to hotspot housing problems in Cincinnati and identify and treat substandard housing clusters. Its publications have significantly advanced the research on medical-legal partnership, housing, and population health. Child HeLP was established in 2008 and is a partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. Nine members of it’s health and legal team were at the Summit to accept the award presented by Dr. Bob Pettignano, chair of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership’s Advisory Council.
The second recipient, Whitman-Walker Health, has offered integrated legal services to its patients for thirty years. Its commitment to legal care as part of comprehensive health care is marked by the size of its legal services team and by the more than 2,500 patients who receive legal services annually at Whitman-Walker Health. In 2014, the health center added a new position to its leadership team – Senior Director for Health and Legal Integration and Payment Innovation – to further embed legal services as an institutional priority.
Whitman-Walker Health not only has one of the oldest and most integrated MLPs in the country, it is a pioneer around treating the health and legal issues that affect LGBT people and people with HIV. Health care and legal team members have worked together to create critical form letters in the Electronic Health Record for transgender patients to ensure quicker and more consistent care. The work of Whitman-Walker Health’s medical-legal partnership has extended beyond the clinic’s walls, and its advocacy has contributed the passage of city and federal laws that promote the health and health care of LGBT individuals. Whitman-Walker Health is a federally qualified health center providing integrated services and affirming care with expertise serving people living with HIV and the LGBT communities, and has directly employed attorneys to provide legal services to its patients since 1986. The award, presented by National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership Advisory Council Member Woody Thorne, was accepted by Erin Loubier, Senior Director of Health and Legal Integration and Payment Reform at Whitman-Walker and Megan Coleman, a Family Nurse Practitioner and Director of Community Research at Whitman-Walker.
2016 Distinguished MLP Advocate Award
During the awards ceremony, Daniel Atkins from Community Legal Aid Society in Delaware and Theordore Boesen, Jr. from the Iowa Primary Care Association received the Distinguished Medical-Legal Partnership Advocate Award. Established in 2011, the award is given annually to recognize an MLP practitioner from the health, public health or legal sector who has made a significant contribution to support the national growth of the MLP movement through research, policy, scaling or education activities.
Daniel Atkins was honored for his work establishing medical-legal partnerships in both Pennsylvania and Delaware. Mr. Atkins has consistently built diverse cross-sector MLP teams that prioritize documentation of health-related impacts, which has led to significant growth and investment. Recently, the Delaware Department of Public Health committed $700,000 to provide civil legal aid services to pregnant women throughout the state; a separate funding award will expand the Delaware medical-legal partnership’s reach to serve high-need, high-cost patients in 2016-17.
Mr. Atkins co-led a federal pilot that measured the impact of including civil legal aid services in the Healthy Start home visiting program. As Mr. Atkins has methodically championed, measured, and grown medical-legal partnerships in his region, he has also published numerous articles, and created and teaches a medical-legal partnership course at Widener University’s Delaware School of Law to help train the next generation of lawyers to respond collaboratively to health problems in their communities. Mr. Atkins is the Executive Director of the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. in Delaware and the Director of HELP: MLP at Widener University.
Theordore Boesen, Jr. was honored for his decade of national leadership in advancing the medical-legal partnership model in Iowa and nationally across federally-funded health centers and primary care associations. Mr. Boesen is the Chief Executive Officer of the Iowa Primary Care Association and was the first primary care association leader to partner with a federally-funded statewide civil legal aid agency to implement medical-legal partnership activities in several Iowa health centers. As a statewide leader in primary care and a lifelong advocate for underserved populations, Mr. Boesen championed MLP with his colleagues and allies, drawing an early federal investment for MLP activities with the help of former Senator Tom Harkin. Mr. Boesen’s leadership role in healthcare transformation in Iowa and nationally has informed the growth of MLP in Iowa, leading to new and exciting opportunities for integration and sustainability, and is again placing Mr. Boesen and the Iowa Primary Care Association out front as pioneers in the medical-legal partnership field.
Both awards were presented by National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership Advisory Council Member Bethany Hamilton.