Thrive by IU Health

February 25, 2024

Philanthropy helps patients in surprising ways through Medical Legal Partnership program

Philanthropy helps patients in surprising ways through Medical Legal Partnership program

IU Health team members help patients overcome all kinds of barriers to care—including legal barriers. Examples include guardianship of patients who can’t make decisions for themselves at discharge; insurance tangles; patient housing and evictions; and securing home care.

“The Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) can help address a broad scope of legal cases for patients,” said Josh Coffey, Director of Integrated Care Management (ICM) at Methodist and University hospitals. “We just need to connect the case to the patient’s long-term medical benefit. That could be filing for divorce to ensure safe discharge planning, public housing assistance, criminal charge expungement that limits access to a service or facility, as well as more typical cases like a last will and testament.”

Funded by generous donors, the MLP is a collaborative effort between Indiana Legal Services (ILS) and ICM. ICM identifies patients who require legal assistance they may not be able to obtain on their own and calls in ILS to provide guidance. This innovative program has grown in recent years to have a more significant impact for IU Health patients.

“These legal services are going to folks who are at poverty level or below,” said Coffey. “It’s a miracle most hospitals can’t provide.”

IU Health’s ICM team encompasses three different departments: the case management team, the social work team and the non-clinical support team, all of whom meet weekly to review complex cases, including patients whose discharge from the hospitals could be difficult.

“We try to be proactive,” Coffey said. “The case review serves as a good platform for using Medical Legal Partnership. From there, the social worker connects with the patient and their family to make sure they’re okay with us referring them to ILS.”

The MLP only addresses legal issues that affect a patient’s ability to be discharged from the hospital. It does not address any criminal issues.

“The goal of the partnership is to make sure everybody has as many resources as possible,” Coffey said. “It’s something that I’m proud of, and I’m proud we’ve increased the number of patients it serves.”

The MLP is only possible thanks to philanthropic support. If you’re interested in helping patients obtain legal support to overcome barriers to care, make a gift on the IU Health Foundation website today. Your gift will make All the Difference to an IU Health patient and their family.

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