On April 7, the Office for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice and New York City Health + Hospitals were honored with the 2016 Medical-Legal Partnership Leadership Award during the annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit in Indianapolis. The award was established in 2010 and is given annually to recognize an individual or group whose leadership, vision and hard work have significantly advanced and strengthened the medical-legal partnership movement to reach people and communities in need.
Over the last year, the Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) has partnered with MLP leaders for a wide range of convenings; educated Access to Justice leaders about the upstream role of MLP, and most significantly, used the creation of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable as an opportunity to champion MLP with federal policymakers. ATJ is building on the strength of the MLP work being carried out by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to cultivate additional federal agency champions, unlock potential federal and other resources, and place MLP at the center of the ATJ strategy to meet the needs of vulnerable Americans.
While accepting the award on behalf of ATJ, Deputy Director Maha Jweied spoke about the connections between health and justice and the importance of the health and legal communities continuing to work together, adding that, “Some of the best evidence of civil legal aid impact has come from medical-legal partnerships.”
New York City Health + Hospitals was honored for its leadership as the first public hospital system to commit to medical-legal partnership in all of its institutions. Its partnership with LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group, has been transformative for patients, for the New York community, and for the broader health care landscape. Its unprecedented commitment to addressing the social determinants of health through integration of legal care, as well as a recent op-ed by President and CEO Raju Ramanathan about why health systems should invest in medical-legal partnership, are having a national ripple effect across peer institutions and allies.
Randall Mark, Chief of Staff to the President and CEO, accepted the award on behalf of NYC Health + Hospitals, which was presented by Randye Retkin, Director of Legal Health. During his remarks, Mr. Randall spoke to the role lawyers can play in helping address the health of patients, noting that, “NYC Health and Hospitals has no greater ally than LegalHealth in meeting our patients social needs.”
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice works within the Department, across federal agencies, and with state, local, and tribal justice system stakeholders to increase access to counsel and legal assistance and to improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers. ATJ also serves as the staff of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable. NYC Health + Hospitals is an integrated health care system of hospitals, neighborhood health centers, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and home care providers — the public safety net health care system of New York City.
Click here to read about the 2016 Outstanding MLP Award and 2016 Distinguished MLP Advocate Award honoring programs in Cincinnati, Ohio and Washington, D.C. alongside advocates from Community Legal Aid Society in Delaware and the Iowa Primary Care Asssociation.