KU-LMH partnership to provide free legal services to hospital patients

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

LAWRENCE – A new partnership between the University of Kansas School of Law and Lawrence Memorial Hospital will offer free legal assistance to low-income patients while providing invaluable hands-on training to law students.

The KU Medical-Legal Partnership at LMH is part of a national movement of hospitals integrating legal services into patient care. The model recognizes that health problems often have solutions rooted in the law, but many patients cannot afford to hire an attorney.

“For example, often patients can improve their health by ensuring they have appropriate medical leave from work or by obtaining a legal guardian who can look out for their best interests,” said Lou Mulligan, associate dean for faculty and professor of law. “This partnership is a triple win. First, it provides a great benefit for our community. Second, it improves the level of holistic care that LMH can deliver to its patients. Third, it provides an outstanding opportunity for our law students.”

Lawrence Memorial Hospital Chief Operating Officer Karen Shumate said LMH was pleased to partner with the law school to improve health care for the community’s most vulnerable members.

“We appreciate the considerable time and energy of the KU Law faculty and staff who helped get this service started at the hospital,” she said. “We anticipate a long collaboration which we hope will lead to other initiatives between KU and LMH.”

Through the partnership, LMH provides office and meeting space for the Medical-Legal Partnership and funds the salary of managing attorney Juliann Morland DaVee, a KU Law graduate with years of experience in the MLP setting.

“Working in the hospital will make it easier for us to meet with patients when they need us most,” DaVee said. “I believe this setting will also be beneficial to students as they learn to interact with patient-clients dealing with very difficult and pressing health and legal needs.”

DaVee began taking clients in late August. Under her supervision, between four and eight law students will start working on cases in the spring. Those students will have the opportunity to conduct intake interviews, develop case strategies, conduct legal research, prepare legal documents, and provide representation in administrative hearings and court – all skills that will be useful in whatever legal career they eventually pursue.

As the students hone their advocacy abilities, they will be helping clients confront difficulties with housing, employment and education; resolve insurance and benefits issues; navigate complications related to immigrant status; bolster personal and family stability, and more.

The LMH partnership builds on the success of a similar arrangement between KU Law and the Department of Family Medicine at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Third-year law student Sylvia Hernandez said she gained confidence, case management skills and a wide range of legal experience in the program.

“In the MLP, you never know what type of case you will get. It all depends on what legal services the patient needs,” she said. “I prepared an application for citizenship and a health care power of attorney. Two of my clients spoke only Spanish. Their faces lit up when they realized I could truly understand their situation. It was fulfilling to put people at ease while I advocated on their behalf.”  

In the past year, KU students at the KU Med location led by managing attorney Dana Pugh achieved positive outcomes for more than 250 clients. In one case, the MLP helped terminate the lease of a patient whose severe anxiety was exacerbated by a pest infestation at his apartment complex that property managers had ignored for three months. The patient was able to move to another apartment with safe, stable conditions, and his health issues have improved significantly.

Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic part of team developing model to prevent human trafficking

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

LAWRENCE — The success of Oscar-winning film “12 Years a Slave” has brought wide attention to the pre-Civil War memoir of Solomon Northup, a freeborn man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery for 12 years in Louisiana.

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, but sadly pieces of Northup’s story still ring true today as human trafficking remains operating in a shadow of everyday life. A team of University of Kansas researchers is studying a myriad of issues surrounding trafficking and developing a prevention model with the goal it could one day apply both nationally and internationally.

“We’re working on an empirical model for assessing vulnerabilities within populations that can eventually lead to exploitation,” said Hannah Britton, director of ASHTI, the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative. “We’re looking at risk and protective factors and communities that can help people avoid exploitation.”

ASHTI in March launched its website, which will include preliminary research findings, said Britton, who is an associate professor of political science and women, gender and sexuality studies as well as director of the Center for International Political Analysis at KU’s Institute for Policy & Social Research, which houses ASHTI.

The launch of the website comes one year after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and KU hosted the Kansas Conference on Slavery and Human Trafficking on campus.

Britton said development of the preventive model is based on research the team is still gathering in the Kansas City metropolitan area through working with a wide variety of groups, including service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, churches, organizations that work on immigration rights or migrant labor, and English-language learning classes.

Modern-day slavery and human trafficking manifests itself in various ways, including providing forced labor or sexual exploitation. Research estimates tens of thousands of people are living in the United States in some type of modern-day slavery.

So far, the ASHTI team’s research has identified several factors that can leave people vulnerable to human trafficking. People who have a limited knowledge of the English language are typically at risk because they often aren’t educated on the legal rights they have or because they have a more difficult time navigating the legal system. Poverty is also a significant factor, although other risk factors affect people from middle- or upper-class families as well.

Instability in one’s family structure or home life can create a major risk for someone to become a victim of exploitation.

Britton said the group is also looking at protective factors that can help victims of human trafficking safely free themselves.

“Either they had a fairly good education, or they knew that’s a pathway out of exploitation,” she said. “Education is very helpful.”

Often labor rights groups and educational programs provide assistance or enough awareness for certain victims to realize they are being exploited for work or otherwise, Britton said.

The research team considers a preventive model a key to combating human trafficking alongside prosecution. While there have been high-profile cases about trafficking rings, it’s still a lucrative business within the informal economy and an international issue.

For example, among the populations in the Kansas City research project, while most victims are from the United States, researchers have identified people from other countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Moldova, Ukraine, the Philippines and many former Soviet republics.

“I think we all know that demand pushes trafficking. It’s interesting to me how much our participants in the study talked about that. If they could get rid of the demand, there would not be this recruitment and this cultivation of potential trafficked persons,” Britton said. “So dealing with the demand for sex trafficking, dealing with the demand for a poorly paid workforce, those types of things are driving this. And that’s really hard to address.”

In addition to research, ASHTI addresses teaching and advocacy. This includes supporting a Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at the KU School of Law, which is seeking to create the first anti-human trafficking legal clinic based on such a partnership. In December, the MLP Clinic was selected as a finalist in the first round of the Partnership for Freedom, a national competition seeking innovative ideas to better care for survivors of modern-day slavery.

Britton hopes the broad approach of KU’s involvement and momentum such as from the 2013 conference can help the ASHTI project spread its preventive model on an international level and put modern-day slavery and trafficking even more in the public eye.

“People can be trafficked in plain sight — literally in plain sight,” she said. “If you’re aware of it, you start to look for it.”

Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic to benefit from Proud to Be a Jayhawk tailgate

Thursday, September 05, 2013

LAWRENCE — The Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic for the School of Law and The Big Event will benefit from the 2013 Proud To Be A Jayhawk tailgating fundraiser. The KU football season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 7, when the Jayhawks take on the University of South Dakota at Memorial Stadium.

The law school launched its Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Clinic — the first in Kansas — in January 2008. MLP is a health care delivery model that integrates legal services into comprehensive patient care. Working with health care providers and under the supervision of licensed attorneys, law students provide free legal assistance to the low-income patients of the KU Medical Center, JayDoc Free Clinic and Health Care Access.

The Big Event, which began in 2010, connects University of Kansas students, faculty and staff with the Lawrence community by recruiting volunteers to work at hundreds of local job sites during one day of service.

More than $50,000 has been raised through the Proud To Be A Jayhawk tailgating fundraiser since the promotion began in 2001. Past beneficiaries include the BullDoc Free Clinic through the KU Medical Center, the Marching Jayhawks, Math and Science Center, Mi Familia Program, International House, Commission on the Status of Women, Global Awareness Program, Global Partners Program, Center for Community Outreach, Spirit Squad, Nichols League Student Leadership Fund, Studio 804, BiodieselInitiative, Center for Sustainability, Emerging Green Builders, the Jaydoc free medical clinics in Kansas City and Wichita, the KU Audio-Reader sensory garden for the visually impaired and KU's Disability Resources office.

Tailgating and shuttle bus information:
Fans 21 and older may tailgate with alcohol in designated areas during a three-hour pregame period and during halftime. Tailgating with alcohol is not permitted during game time. On Sept. 7, tailgating begins at 3 p.m. Free shuttle buses will begin running two hours before game time from campus parking lots to the east side of Memorial Stadium.

Designated tailgating lots are 1, 2, 3, 33, 34, 36, 39, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65, 72, 90, 91, 94, 96 and 130. Tailgating is permitted in the Mississippi Street parking garage, but no cooking is allowed. A map can be found in the 2013 Kansas Football Guide.

Parking and Transit will sell a limited number of parking spaces in lot 72, between the Allen Fieldhouse parking garage and the Burge Union, and in lot 90, between the fieldhouse and the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center. Both are approved tailgating lots and are served by a free shuttle for travel to and from Memorial Stadium. Parking will cost $20.

For people with disabilities, there are 12 parking stalls in lot 59 on the stadium's east side and 26 stalls in lot 94 on the west side. Each costs $20.

Alcohol consumption is not permitted on campus or city streets.

In addition to providing portable toilets in all designated tailgating areas, Kansas Athletics will provide burn buckets for fans to safely dispose of hot coals.

In an effort to comply with all Homeland Security recommendations and provide the safest atmosphere for coaches, players and fans, backpacks and other large bags are not allowed in Memorial Stadium.

Tailgating rules:
Alcohol may be consumed only during a three-hour period before kickoff and during halftime in designated tailgating areas.

Underage drinking, disorderly conduct or other unlawful conduct will not be tolerated.

No kegs or other alcohol containers with a capacity greater than 1 gallon may be brought into a tailgating area. Fans are strongly encouraged not to use or bring glass containers.

Alcohol may not be brought into Memorial Stadium.

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