Hofstra teams with health firm

The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University is partnering with Northwell Health to give legal services for those facing issues that contribute to poor health, such as denial of health care coverage, social services or benefits, immigration and disability benefits, the school reports. Funded by a $512,000 state grant, the partnership will focus on serving underserved children and adults, such as Medicaid recipients.

According to the school, the partnership will target community health disparities: unsanitary housing conditions, denial of health benefits, domestic violence, access to healthy food and water, lack of consistent or affordable child care, and other factors that stand in the way of good health no matter what treatment is given to the patient.

Student fellows at Hofstra Law are already conducting research to further identify and understand patients’ needs, the school said. This summer, the Law School’s Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy, which will manage the legal component of the partnership, expects to hire a director of the legal team. In the fall, up to 10 students will work at the clinics to provide legal services and referrals to patients under the direction of a supervising attorney.

“Designed to integrate legal services into the health setting, Hofstra Law and Northwell will join the growing movement to expand health care law that will serve the community and transform health care for vulnerable populations,” said Judge Gail Prudenti, dean of Hofstra Law. “We are incredibly excited to be working with such an outstanding partner in Northwell Health.”

An important component of the program will be cross-training medical and legal providers so they better understand each other’s discipline, according to the school.  Attorneys will see how they fit into the continuum of care, and clinical staff will learn how to identify legal issues impacting patient health. Hofstra Law and Northwell will develop materials and awareness campaigns to educate patients and the community about their legal rights. Northwell will also refer patients and their families to the MLP, as appropriate.

“Negative social factors have a significant impact on health care outcomes, and many of these factors can be mitigated through greater access to legal services,” said Janet L. Dolgin, Hofstra Law professor and director of the Gitenstein Institute.


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