Social determinants may create barriers that prevent families living in poverty from achieving and maintaining good health. Traditional medicine does not cure these social determinants, but by partnering with lawyers, doctors have an opportunity to make headway against disparities in care. Likewise, lawyers have the opportunity to promote health through their representation of patients. For example, a child who needs medication which must be kept cold cannot return to a home where the families utilities have been wrongfully shut off. An attorney can work with a utility company to ensure that utility service is restored.
NLSA, in collaboration with UPMC, established the first medical legal collaborative in Western Pennsylvania. Today, NLSA and UPMC Children’s Hospital are collaborating at the Primary Care Center in Oakland, PA where we maintain office hours each week to help the physicians and staff with patients who may need legal assistance. This legal assistance has the potential to improve patient outcomes. Our assistance includes, but is not limited to, such legal issues as Protection from Abuse, Medicaid, public benefits, evictions, mortgage foreclosure, utility terminations, employment issues, and guardianships.