Lawyers and doctors are teaming up to provide better health care – and legal aid – to Michiganders

Medical-legal partnerships are working to support low-income residents by integrating free, professional legal services directly into healthcare settings.

Feature (Michigan)

Estelle Slootmaker
Second Wave Media
January 23, 2020

Tags: Medical-Legal Partnerships

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid of Western Michigan


Having legal counsel to address social determinants like housing, food, income, and domestic violence has a direct positive impact on patients’ physical and mental health. All legal issues can cause stress, anxiety, and depression, which also takes a toll. That’s why Hoekwater and Tschosik assert that including legal assistance as part of an integrated health model makes perfect sense.

“What we love about this medical-legal partnership is that individuals don’t always know that they have a legal issue,” Hoekwater says. “Also, instead of someone having to go to our office and make an appointment, they are coming to Cherry Health (and) getting screened by a health provider that we’ve trained who might realize a lawyer could help.”

Any of Cherry Health’s community health workers, physicians, or nurses can refer patients for legal assistance. And, according to Hoekwater and Tschosik, that assistance is improving patients’ health outcomes. Hoekwater notes that 60% of people with chronic health have legal issues.