Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) held a recognition event to honor the pro bono achievements of legal professionals in the region; including those who work diligently to support the patients of Erlanger Health System.
Erlanger received the inaugural Alexander Hamilton Award from LAET for creating the first true medical-legal partnership in Tennessee. The program, Erlanger Health System Health Law Partnership (EHLP), provides free, direct legal services to patients whose household incomes are at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. An LAET attorney, whose office is located at the Erlanger Baroness Campus, provides assistance with issues such as public health benefits, housing, education, employment, power of attorney or advanced directives and domestic violence.
Dale Hetzler, chief legal officer for Erlanger, said, “A couple of years ago, Dave Yoder, who is LAET executive director, and I began a collaboration to create a program at Erlanger that is similar to ones available in less than 2% of hospitals in America. We knew such a program would be a tremendous asset to the professional community, both legal and medical, and would help patients at the hospital with legal matters that are impacting their health.”
“Early in my career, I saw the impact resolving a civil legal problem can have in creating a positive medical outcome while taking the testimony of a critically ill hospital patient in a stressful case and watching the monitors show a decrease in both blood pressure and heart rate,” said Mr. Yoder. “In six short months, the Erlanger Health Law Partnership has already proven successful in helping patients improve health care outcomes and reduce hospital costs.”
Many of the physicians and medical departments at Erlanger value the support provided by Emily Lay, LAET attorney. Ms. Lay attends multi-disciplinary rounds to hear from the physicians about legal matters that are impacting a patient’s health and works with the patient or family members to address the concerns for the patient.
A grant from the Benwood Foundation will fund the program for another year.