In Virginia, legal aid staff trains physicians, nurses, social workers and law students to screen patients for legal issues impacting health, including access to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Medicaid, Medicare, housing, unemployment, and free and appropriate public education. Medical providers learn to conduct front-line advocacy in consultation with MLP staff, resulting in legal benefits for families. Doctors educate lawyers on systemic challenges in the health care settings, allowing legal staff to advocate for changes in laws, regulations, and policies. Most critically, MLPs provide free legal representation to low-income families who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer. The combined expertise and experience of Virginia MLPs is used to create Virginia-specific training materials, share resources, improve intrastate referrals, and bring statewide solutions to problems facing low-income Virginia families.
The Virginia Medical-Legal Partnership Network improves health outcomes by harnessing the combined power of doctors, lawyers and social workers. In 2004, the first Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) in Virginia was formed in Charlottesville. Now, there are five MLPs at nine sites in the Commonwealth. Virginia MLPs have partnered with hospitals, primary care centers, specialty practices, federally qualified health centers, nursing homes, and several law schools. We serve individuals, families, children, and elders with a wide range of medical, legal, and social work needs. In 2008, the Network started meeting to promote best practices, share Virginia-specific resources, and work together to improve health outcomes in the Commonwealth. The Network collects and distributes client and provider resources, hosts quarterly meetings, and maintains an active list-serv. We also coordinate efforts with the National Medical-Legal Partnership.