Medical-Legal Partnerships (MLP) address legal issues that impact health, such as lack of heat, unstable housing, or food insecurity, by embedding legal experts within health care teams. The MLP model ensures that legal advocates can address problems before they become crises by working closely with health care teams. Together, these partners provide holistic medical and legal care so that children and families can thrive.
At its MLPs, CLS legal advocates work side-by-side with doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and other health care team members to treat low-income patients and families. The MLPs have a lasting impact on communities through:
- directly representing patients and families with legal problems in such areas as housing, utilities, and public benefits;
- educating providers and social workers to identify and address social and legal problems that pose barriers to good health;
- transforming health care practices to treat the whole person with a focus on social and legal determinants of health; and
- partnering to make larger, system-level changes to policies that directly impact patients.
CLS launched its first MLP with the Public Health Management Corporation’s (PHMC) Rising Sun Health Center in Olney in 2014. In 2018, CLS expanded to a second partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) at the Karabots Pediatric Care Center in West Philadelphia.
Rising Sun MLP
Rising Sun is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving a low-income and diverse immigrant and refugee population. The Rising Sun MLP’s location in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia enables CLS to reach a deeply underserved community. The heavily immigrant and limited English proficient patient population face a number of legal problems including difficulty accessing health care. CLS advocates have helped many Rising Sun patients access Medicaid so that they can get treatment for serious medical conditions such as epilepsy and cancer.
MLP with the CHOP Karabots Center
The Karabots Pediatric Care Center is the largest pediatric primary care center in the country, treating over 30,000 patients each year. An overwhelming majority of Karabots patients are low-income Philadelphia children, most of whom are from the surrounding neighborhoods in West Philadelphia. Patients and their families face social, economic, and legal problems that undermine their health. For example, losing electricity or heat can severely impact a child with existing health needs, such as complex chronic conditions or disabilities.