The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
I’m already a huge fan of Legal Aid, but as the mother of a child with a serious chronic illness who has spent plenty of time in the local children’s hospital, I am excited about The Child Health-Law Partnership (Child HeLP) at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio, a collaboration between the hospital and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati “in which a lawyer and a paralegal are on hand to offer assistance with any legal issue that may affect a child’s health or their family’s.”
One of the most heartbreaking situations I saw during one of my daughter’s hospitalizations was a single mother getting the news, via cell phone, that she had been terminated from her job. Her supervisor told her that she missed too much work to be with her child, who was fighting the sudden onset of an aggressive cancer. Even though I was right there, a paralegal for a law firm that specializes in workers’ rights, ready to let her call my supervising attorney to discuss the situation at no charge, what she really needed me to do was listen and hold her while she cried over her child’s serious health issues and the loss of her income.
For families trying to care for children with life-threatening illnesses, often far away from the homes they are in danger of losing due to sudden termination and sky-rocketing medical expenses, and sometimes unable to leave the hospital for even short periods, having access to a medico-legal team will give them some much-needed support during a difficult period in their lives.
Pediatrician Dr. Melissa Klein with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center says many of the causes of poor child health are social in origin, so by maximizing the resources of two professions, they can get to the root of what is really going on.
“Perhaps one of the best prescriptions we as doctors can give is to say ‘take two lawyers and call in the morning’ – working together, we can get to the underlying causes of the poor health and really help the family as a whole.”
This is good work for a good cause. I hope to see more of these programs become available across the country.