NLSLA was proud to join its partners in celebrating the one year anniversary of the Medical Legal Community Partnership-LA Health Collaborative, an expansive MLCP project that leverages the expertise of Los Angeles’ most prominent legal services organizations to improve health outcomes for individuals, families and communities throughout the County.

“This collaboration, where advocates from NLSLA, LAFLA, Bet Tzedek and Mental Health Advocacy Services work with staff from the County’s Whole Person Care program, has had such a profound impact on some of Los Angeles most vulnerable and chronically ill Medi-Cal recipients,” NLSLA Executive Director Neal Dudovitz told the crowd at the event, which took place in April at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center.

The project brings critical legal services to the County Department of Health Services’ “Whole Person Care” program—which provides health and social services to vulnerable Medi-Cal recipients—to address the legal issues impacting these populations.

Joe Chavez is one of these clients. He was at County hospital when he learned he would no longer receive his $221 monthly General Relief check and would have to enroll in a welfare-to-work program in order to get assistance. On a good day, Joe can walk with a cane. He has a slew of serious medical conditions that for years have left him homebound. In addition to liver cancer and diabetes, he is also living with serious mental illness—conditions that had in the past exempted him from the welfare work requirement.

Losing the General Relief subsidy would almost surely mean losing his housing as well, as Joe depends on a Section 8 subsidy, and uses the general relief funds to help pay his portion of the rent. But at the hospital, Chavez was introduced to a Community Health Worker who was trained by NLSLA’s Gerson Sorto—who leads the collaborative effort—to recognize legal issues impacting patients.

The community health worker referred Chavez to NLSLA attorney Katrina Rayco, who quickly got his benefits reinstated. She also reached out to the County Department of Mental Health to begin the process of applying to Social Security Income—a more robust subsidy than general relief—for which Chavez is eligible.

“It was a relief—like somebody pulling you out of water,” Joe said of having an attorney. “It gave me hope.”

The MLCP is now a permanent component of the LA County Health delivery system—a longtime NLSLA goal and a huge achievement for the organization and its partners!