Skip to Content
216.861.6200

Interdisciplinary Medical Legal Partnership takes holistic approach to wellness

By  on 
Posted on August 15, 2018

Interdisciplinary Medical Legal Partnership takes holistic approach to wellness

An innovator in compassionate care, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center partnered with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland in October 2017 to create one of the nation’s first medical-legal partnerships (MLP) to focus on behavioral health and addiction patients in an environment with a Psychiatric Emergency Department and inpatient psychiatric and detoxification units.

Through this partnership, Legal Aid attorneys Michael Russell and Jennifer Kinsley are onsite at St. Vincent Charity to advise and represent patients and to train providers in spotting social determinants of health with potential legal remedies.

Dr. Albana Dreshaj, medical director of St. Vincent Charity Psychiatric Emergency Department, was quick to embrace the collaboration. Upon discharging a patient who suffered the financial fallout of identity theft, Dr. Dreshaj saw St. Vincent Charity providers had treated her psychiatric needs, but the legal issue that triggered her distress — an unexpected cut-off of benefits supporting the family of six — was still unresolved.

Dr. Dreshaj walked the young mother down the hallway to meet Russell, an attorney with a decade of experience in poverty law, who comes from a family of psychiatrists and medical prMichael Russell, Legal Aid attorneyoviders.

“I interviewed the client and immediately consulted with a Legal Aid colleague who reached out to her contacts at the Social Security Administration to determine that, despite what the client was told, her benefits were partially restored,” Russell said.

This information brought visible relief to the young mother, who was already making plans to move if she couldn’t pay her rent. Russell continues to work to reverse the deduction in her benefits, while another attorney investigates the identity theft at the root of the problem.

Russell says the interdisciplinary MLP takes a holistic approach to client-patient advocacy that focuses on wellness rather than addressing a single pre-defined legal problem or case.

“I became a Legal Aid lawyer to help vulnerable people where they’re at,” Russell said. “This model helps people.”

In addition to accepting clients from the Psychiatric ED, Russell and Kinsley have assisted homeless patients from Joseph’s Home, drug and alcohol rehJennifer Kinsley, Legal Aid attorneyabilitation patients from Rosary Hall, Geriatric Psychiatry patients, as well as medical and surgical patients from the St. Vincent Charity Health Care Center.

Kinsley came to Legal Aid after five years as Cleveland Assistant City Prosecutor working on cases for Drug Court, Veteran’s Court, and Mental Health Court. She was drawn to her new role because of the population she serves.

“During my time serving on those specialized dockets, I saw a need to get involved with the behavioral health population and attempt to get them the assistance and connections that they need to keep them out of criminal court and living their best lives,” Kinsley said.

For Kinsley, the most rewarding work has been supporting clients referred from Rosary Hall. 

“Whether through legal advice on family reunification, child support, or making sure patients have the public benefits needed to get back on their feet and establish stable residence, we’ve been helping patients in recovery to re-establish their lives in a meaningful and healthy way.” Kinsley said.

The St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Legal Aid partnership is generously funded by the Jones Day Foundation, Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and Gund Foundation.


Recent posts

Pain After Knee Replacement Should Not Be Ignored

Pain After Knee Replacement Should Not Be Ignored

Total knee replacement is one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine due to its success in relieving chronic pain and restoring mobility and function. That is why more than 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed each year. However, a small percentage of knee replacement surgeries fail, and when that happens, patients should seek the advice of a knee revision specialist as soon as possible. According to Bernard Stulberg M.D. of the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, continued knee pain can signal failure of an implant device, a condition that requires timely intervention to avoid further complication and bone loss.
Read More
Circle the City with Love Spreads Peace on Public Square

Circle the City with Love Spreads Peace on Public Square

Spreading the power of love in Northeast Ohio is the mission of a unique gathering that took place in Public Square Sunday. During the annual Circle the City with Love event, people hula hooped, danced and joined each other in laughter, and joined hands for 30 minutes for the event’s signature circle of silence. St. Vincent Charity Director of Education Karen Komondor served as the chairperson for the event.
Read More
Meet the Experts: Bariatric Surgery in Preparation for Orthopedic Surgery

Meet the Experts: Bariatric Surgery in Preparation for Orthopedic Surgery

Obesity leads to heart disease, type II diabetes, and cancer. It also has a significant impact on joint health. Individuals with obesity have higher incidence of hip pain and stiffness, knee
Read More