VMC’s successful innovation to place lawyers on site at pediatric health clinics has reached an important milestone. This month, the Silicon Valley Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic celebrates its 5 year anniversary at Valley Medical Center.
The rationale for medical-legal partnerships is simple: Sometimes a child’s health problems require a legal solution. Pediatricians treat children with chronic asthma due to substandard housing conditions, children who face challenges at school when they need to take medications during the school day, and children whose parents need assistance accessing food stamps and other benefits to help keep their children healthy – among many other issues. Sometimes in cases like these, free legal services from a specially-trained attorney can mean the difference between a child’s ever worsening health and identifying a lasting solution in their home or school environment.
The Silicon Valley Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic is a collaboration between Valley Medical Center and Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, a program of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. Since its inception, the clinic has received 763 referrals from VMC pediatricians, nurses, and other clinical staff. Providers widely agree that the program is a valuable addition to VMC’s patient services and an important tool for improving health outcomes for higher risk patients. Dr. Lee Anna Botkin, the medical director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, describes the MLP as “a win-win program: we provide needed services to patients in a familiar and trusted setting, we educate medical professionals to identify unmet legal needs that impact health, and we give medical professionals a new framework for how to address the underlying factors that contribute to illness, stress, and crisis.”
The Silicon Valley Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic is the first in operation at a county health care facility in northern California. It was founded in 2009 with generous grant support from FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, an ongoing funder of the program. As we prepare to grow the program to additional clinic locations in the coming years, the support of private funders will be crucial. For more information about the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, including how you can be involved and support this valuable resource, contact Elizabeth Nielsen at (408) 373-6647 or Elizabeth.Nielsen@hhs.sccgov.org.