OKC-County Health Department (OCCHD) and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO) announced Dec. 20 a new medical-legal partnership (MLP) to provide free legal assistance on-site at two county community health centers. The goal of the clinic-based program is for clinical staff and legal counsel to work together to tackle legal needs that negatively impact health.
Through the program, a dedicated full-time LASO attorney will provide legal advice and representation to low-income, under or uninsured patients and their families. The project is being funded, in part, by a one-year, $50,000 grant from Telligen Community Initiative (TCI), a private charitable foundation.
"Medical care alone is not enough to address the complex health needs of many of our patients," said OCCHD Executive Director Gary Cox. "We appreciate the generous funding from TCI to allow us to offer these new services to bring much-needed support for those who do not have another place to turn for this type of legal assistance.”
MLP is a unique health care delivery model that brings caregivers and lawyers together to tackle health issues that have legal, rather than medical solutions. This could include negotiating with a landlord to address a possible eviction or unsafe living conditions, such as a mold infestation triggering asthma; helping a family secure Medicaid payment for a specialized wheelchair or home nursing services; or preparing legal guardianships to allow parents to continue making health care decisions for their children with special needs after they turn 18 or other legal challenges, such as domestic violence, child custody, mortgage foreclosure and loss of benefits.
“We are pleased to work with OCCHD’s physicians and caregivers to help improve the health and well-being of the community,” said Michael Figgins, executive director of LASO. “Individuals and families can face challenging legal conditions that complicate health. Our goal is to address these issues to help provide better quality of life.”
Telligen Community Initiative, the charitable foundation of Telligen, Inc., is a private, nonprofit health care intelligence company. TCI provides financial grants to support projects and organizations that strive to improve the health of communities.
“We are proud to support this innovative medical-legal initiative, a key step toward a healthier future for Oklahomans,” said Matt McGarvey, executive director of TCI. “Providing access to both medical and legal services can have a life-changing impact to the most vulnerable in the community.”
Since 2013, TCI has awarded over $4 million to nearly 100 organizations in Iowa, Illinois and Oklahoma. This is the second year of funding in Oklahoma, providing nearly $1 million in grants to 28 organizations since 2015.
In November, OCCHD began offering legal assistance to patients at the Northeast Regional Health and Wellness Campus and the South Health Clinic in Oklahoma City. Working closely with providers and staff within the two health clinics, the staff attorney evaluates and responds to appropriate legal concerns raised by patients, or those identified by providers during medical appointments. For more information about this program or to schedule a clinic visit, please call Ken Johnson, Media Relations Coordinator, at (405) 425-4315.
About Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. (LASO) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income persons throughout Oklahoma. The mission of LASO is to serve as a partner in the community making equal justice for all a reality. LASO maintains 18 offices throughout Oklahoma. For more information, please visit www.legalaidok.org.