Building a patient-centered medical-legal home in Hawaii's Kalihi Valley
The Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai'i (MLPC) has worked to address the social determinants of health for low-income patient-families since 2009. Focused on identifying health-harming legal needs, doctors and lawyers work together to assist families with family law, housing, public benefits, education, employment, civil rights, and other concerns. Providing free, direct legal service in the medical setting allows the medical-legal partnership (MLP) team to identify community-wide concerns such as language access violations, racial discrimination, and unfair policies. These individual concerns then inform systemic advocacy and community engagement efforts. The MLPC Hawai'i team has grown through its experiences working with public housing residents, Micronesian migrant communities, and low-income families, ultimately evolving the national MLP framework to become a patient-centered "medical-legal home." This evolution is possible through the utilization of "rebellious lawyering" concepts of working with, not just on behalf of, community clients. This article will introduce the concept of a medical-legal partnership, provide examples of lessons learned from working alongside vulnerable and resilient communities, and explore the idea of the patient-centered medical-legal home as an innovative program to improve the social determinants of health and reduce health disparities.
Shek DM, Turlington AG. Building a patient-centered medical-legal home in Hawaii's Kalihi Valley. Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2019;78(6 Suppl 1):55-60. PMID: 31285971. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527154419864301.