UMass, legal aid group land $195K for medical-legal partnership

BY Zachary Comeau

Grant Welker
Grant Welker
UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

Worcester-based Community Legal Aid has been awarded a two-year $195,000 grant to help continue a medical-legal partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care.
Washington, D.C.-based Legal Services Corporation provided the grant.
As part of the ongoing partnership, UMass will match the funding with a two-year grant of approximately $90,000, UMass said in a press release Thursday.
The grant funds legal service providers including a full-time staff attorney in primary care clinics, an Americorps advocate and 65 volunteer private attorneys, according to the press release.
The grants continue a successful partnership between the entities that provides medical providers, legal aid staff and volunteer private attorneys to assist families with legal problems that negatively impact the health of low-income communities, UMass said.
Beginning in 2015, the partnership has already provided legal services to 200 low-income patients by providing stable housing, financial security and improved educational services. The partnership is intended to integrate care coordination and behavioral health into the primary care setting via a community health framework.
In the press release, Community Legal Aid Executive Director Jonathan Mannina said Worcester law firm Mirick O’Connell was the first law firm to commit attorneys to the project. 
“This collaboration of medical providers and lawyers is a fantastic model for holistic services that really helps people with some of their most pressing needs,” Mannina said.
In collaboration with UMass Memorial’s legal and community relations office, Community Legal Aid is looking to recruit 55 more attorneys for the program. 
“I am grateful to the Legal Services Corporation for the continued funding and look forward to working with our partners on this very important initiative for the next two-years,” said Kate Eshgi, senior vice president and general counsel for UMass Memorial. “Together we have started to improve the health for our most vulnerable citizens.”