Making the Right Connections

A health center in New Orleans has partnered with a legal services agency to better help patients by addressing the social determinants of health. This “medical-legal partnership” is part of a growing trend that’s taking place across the nation.

Feature (Louisiana)

Katy Reckdahl
April 21, 2017

Tags: Medical-Legal Partnerships

Organizations mentioned/involved: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS), National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP)


For more than a year now, Perez has walked into the waiting room at Daughters of Charity to make her announcements about legal help to patients in both Spanish and English. (Perez refers any housing-related cases to Adams, an Equal Justice Works fellow who devotes her time to housing cases for SLLS.) In its first year, the partnership has assisted 221 households.

Nationally, the number of such partnerships is growing quickly. Medical-legal partnerships started in hospitals about two decades ago but can now be found in nearly 300 health centers, hospitals, and community clinics across the nation, according to the National Center for Medical Legal Partnerships. Most partnerships are less than five years old, according to the center’s data. And so the New Orleans partnership is typical. While it’s made strides and seen accomplishments, in many ways, it’s a fledgling operation that is still searching for ways to become financially sustainable, measure its effectiveness, and increase its impact through better screening and outreach.