Activities & Outcomes
The Health Justice Project is an interdisciplinary, interprofessional clinic. By collaborating with the medical, social work, public health and legal professions, we can improve the health of patients/clients. Our team employs a holistic and multifaceted approach to a patient’s/client’s health problems. Law students train health providers to identify social and legal issues that underlie health problems. Once an issue is identified, students and partners respond with legal and other appropriate interventions. Law students may be involved in a variety of cases that range in legal issue from public benefit and disability denials, due process violations, dangerous housing conditions, to utility shut off, among others. Law students also collaborate with other professions to improve health outcomes for low-income individuals and families through public policy advocacy and reform.
Health Justice Project student, Melanie Younger (2011), visits Capitol Hill to discuss the work of the Health Justice Project with Illinois Congressmen.
Between January of 2010 and April of 2013, 106 students of law, medicine, social work, and public health participated in the Health Justice Project. These students collaborated with diverse partners to address the health-related legal and social issues for more than 1,200 patients. As a result, students obtained more than $600,000 in medical debt forgiveness for patients and $550,000 in Medicaid reimbursement to Erie Family Health Center. Under the supervision of attorneys, students worked on 149 disability-related cases and appealed improper disability benefit denials by the Social Security Administration, resulting in a 100% success rate in all cases with an appealable issue and nearly $200,000 in disability benefits. Students also worked on 205 housing cases. In eviction court, the Health Justice Project reduced patients’ housing expenses by more than $38,000. These patient victories illustrate the power of interprofessional collaboration in an MLP.
The Health Justice Project has trained in excess of 200 health professionals, including nurses, doctors, and physician assistants, in the identification of legal and social determinants of health. The Health Justice Project provides support to the 102 Erie Family Health Center physicians who self-identify themselves as medical champions. The presence of the MLP at Erie Family Health Center resulted in the development of a residency program curriculum centered on MLP competences.
Health Justice Project alumni have received prestigious post-graduate residencies and fellowships from Equal Justice Works and the Fulbright Foundation. Other graduates have set the goal of founding an MLP in another city. Others, still, populate health practice groups of law offices and non-profit organizations. No matter where they are, Health Justice Project alumni value their time on the frontlines of interprofessional collaboration to improve the access to health.
For an overview of our accomplishments, click here.