Project Term: 24 months; 2019-2021
Grant Amount: $100,000
Providence St. Patrick Hospital (SPH), in partnership with the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA), will launch the state’s first hospital-based medical-legal partnership. To do this, SPH will have a dedicated MLSA staff attorney available to address patients’ civil-legal needs. The staff attorney will provide direct service to patients, in addition to guiding medical providers and social workers in legal matters specific to a patient’s case. The attorney will also offer training on common civil-legal problems and barriers patients face. The three target populations are those who most commonly have civil-legal issues that impede their health, including people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, people with mental illness, and older adults who are socially vulnerable. Hospital staff will refer patients to the attorney for eligibility screening and potential civil legal assistance. Funding will be used to support a portion of the attorney’s salary. Other salary costs and benefits, as well as professional supervision hours and other operational expenses, will be covered by SPH. As similar projects nationally and in Montana have demonstrated, medical-legal partnerships are an innovative, effective way to resolve the social and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities and have a remedy in civil law.