Monday, September 10, 2018
The same year that People’s Community Clinic in Austin became a Federally Qualified Health Center in 2012, it began offering on-site legal services to its patients. Ask the health care providers and administrators at People’s if it was weird to suddenly have a lawyer walking around, consulting on cases and seeing patients, and the answer you’ll get from everyone is pretty much the same: “No. That’s just the kind of place People’s is.”
In the first in a series of medical-legal partnership origin stories, we trace the Austin team’s planning process, how the nuts and bolts of the partnership came together, and how it’s expanded over time. Through interviews with more than a dozen front-line staff and administrators, the story also looks at how legal services fit in the health center’s broader social determinants of health strategy. Partners share why they think the real value of medical-legal partnership is in using legal expertise to inform clinical processes so that the health center is as safe and empowering a place for patients to receive care as possible.