MPR News article on the difference civil legal services is having on the health of patients at Hennepin County Medical Center’s Whittier Clinic.
By Lorna Benson
May 26, 2015
“When Eric Campbell’s diabetes spiraled out of control last summer, he knew his nearly empty pantry was to blame.
An unexpected $130 cut to his Hennepin County food support left him with only $2 a day to spend on food. His caregivers at Hennepin County Medical Center’s Whittier Clinic were alarmed as Campbell’s health deteriorated, but they couldn’t do much to help. It was a legal problem killing him.
Nurse practitioner Annie Goldbaum, though, was able to call in a lawyer — a colleague in her clinic who she thought could help. Attorney Carrie Graf met with Campbell, got permission to see his records and found the county had mistakenly calculated Campbell’s food assistance payments.
That kind of legal intervention is increasingly common in Minnesota. Some health care clinics are adding on-site attorneys to their teams of doctors and nurses to provide convenient, free legal advice to low-income patients.
The state’s first medical-legal partnership began more than 20 years ago at Community University Health Care Center in Minneapolis. Whittier, also in Minneapolis, began in 2013. A third partnership opened this spring at a St. Cloud clinic. Hamline University’s law school is setting up a similar relationship with a clinic in St. Paul.”