The letter cut right to the point: Hawah Jackson’s lights would be turned off by the end of the month if she didn’t pay overdue utility bills totaling hundred of dollars. Jackson, a nurse at a rehabilitation hospital, said she didn’t have the money and worried how her 22-year-old severely disabled daughter, Binah, would cope if the power in their Dorchester home was shut off.
Jackson told Binah’s pediatrician about the impending crisis. He called a lawyer and within days, Jackson had sent a partial payment to the electric company, which acknowledged that because of her daughter’s disability it couldn’t legally stop providing electricity.
Jackson’s predicament is evidence that good health — particularly for people with modest financial resources — can be as much about legal issues as medical ones.
Dr. Barry Zuckerman, head of Boston Medical Center’s pediatric department, says he realized that years ago. In 1993, he hired a lawyer for the department to deal with legal issues associated with patients’ medical problems. The medical-legal partnership that resulted from his idea is now a national phenomenon, used in nearly 200 hospitals and clinics, with 15 participating law firms.
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Monday, May 10, 2010
The Boston Globe reports on Medical-Legal Partnership: