Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Clinic with More than Medical Care

The Star Tribune has a relatively new Saturday section called "Inspired," three pages (plus one full-page ad on the back) on which they publish stories about good things people are doing. Usually the two stories printed on page 1 are local, with another two or three inside from other papers or wire services. I've been reading it since they started it, but today is the first time I've felt moved to share one of the stories.

It's called Better Health Through Legal Aid, and it tells the story of the Community University Healthcare Center and their 25-year-old legal aid clinic in South Minneapolis, the first of its kind in the U.S. CUHCC (pronounced just the way you'd guess) was founded by a doctor whose father and uncle ran one of the most prominent law firms in Minneapolis, and he called upon the firm's pro bono wing to help out in 1993.

Since then, the firm has given 4,000 free hours of service to 100–200 patients per year, handling immigration, public benefits, housing, and family matters. They don't do criminal cases (which is generally true of Legal Aid organizations).

This is the quote that made me want to share the article today:

Studies of several medical-legal clinics have shown that access to legal services improves health. Patients helped by them have less stress and better asthma control, while newborns and infants get better access to preventive care. Additionally, readmission rates, hospital stays and emergency department visits decreased, according to a review of the scientific literature that appeared in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs.
Since CUHCC started its legal service, 17 other clinics in our region have formed partnerships with law firms, and they even have an association (!) to encourage more law firms to "adopt" a community health clinic.

Good work, CUHCC. You and all the people who work with you are fine examples of how our world should be.

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