Doctors often find themselves tracking problems far afield of medicine: issues such as whether their young patients have suitable living conditions or need educational assistance. But physicians often don’t know how to go about getting mold eradicated from an apartment or getting a child into a special education program, for example, so they tend to concentrate on medical treatments alone. That is changing at St. Vincent Mercy Family Care Center, where a lawyer from Legal Aid of Western Ohio is on site to help doctors and to meet with low-income families having civil legal troubles. Such services also will be available within a few weeks at the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.
“Physicians don’t tend to ask questions we don’t have answers to,” said Dr. Pamela Oatis, pediatric medical director of ethics and palliative care at St. Vincent Mercy Children’s Hospital. “Having the lawyer on site, working with us and teaching us about what questions to ask in order to find out what the shortfalls are is in the process of changing how we’re doing medicine,” Dr. Oatis said.