Howard Brown Health Center Joins LAF and ALCC for a Collaborative Medical-Legal Clinic

Once a week free civil legal assistance will help strengthen the health of HBHC patients.
April 27, 2015—Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC), LAF (formerly Legal Assistance Foundation) and AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (ALCC) are proud to announce the debut of their joint Medical Legal Clinic. Held at Howard Brown Health Center’s 4025. N. Sheridan Rd. location in Chicago, this clinic aims at providing civil legal assistance for HBHC clients and patients who make an appointment or who are referred by their HBHC medical provider, therapist, or case manager.  
“The Howard Brown Health Center staff has long known that the serious civil legal matters that many of our patients and clients face also has a direct impact on their overall physical and mental health,” said Michelle Wetzel, HBHC’s Senior Vice President of Policy, Strategy, & Business Development.
“For those experiencing eviction or having their electricity shut off, having to choose between paying your bills or paying for your medicine is a dilemma that no one should have to face. And we know that choosing the former can have disastrous health consequences.  Having the medical-legal clinic in-house gives our providers the resource to help their patients meet these challenges.”
Open every Wednesday from 1-5pm, a legal advocate sits with patients for a 30-minute appointment offering high-quality and culturally competent review of their legal matter.  Depending on the type of case, the patient will receive immediate legal advice, legal representation by ALCC or LAF, or a referral to another specialized legal resource. For those patients who cannot make Wednesday appointments or who have pressing legal matters that cannot wait, there is a direct access referral process between HBHC and ALCC/LAF in place.
“We know that by addressing the legal needs of our patients and helping them resolve legal matters that are weighing on them, we will further strengthen the health and lives and all of the patients who access this program,” Wetzel stressed.
For LAF and ALCC, this type of collaboration is incredibly important in the Chicago-area LGBTQ community and beyond.
 “LAF is proud to partner with ALCC and Howard Brown Health Center to provide comprehensive legal services to HBHC’s many patients and clients. Working on site will allow us to develop strong relationships with clinic participants in an environment that is comfortable and supportive. Through robust collaboration and relying on each other’s strengths, LAF and ALCC are committed to working together to provide the highest-quality legal advice and legal representation possible,” says Diana White, Executive Director of LAF.

“AIDS Legal Council of Chicago is delighted to be collaborating with the LAF to offer a full-range of legal services to patients at Howard Brown Health Center. Through this unique partnership we hope to address the legal problems that may present barriers to HBHC patients in getting the care they need,” says Ruth Edwards, HIV Project Director and Senior Attorney at ALCC. “We are confident that this program will strengthen and grow, ensuring that no one falls through the gaps. We believe that everyone deserves equal access to legal assistance.”
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About Howard Brown Health Center
Founded in 1974, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) is the Chicago-based health care and research organization primarily serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) community and its allies. HBHC serves more than 27,000 adults and youth each year. A patient-centered health home, HBHC provides primary medical care, behavioral health services, specialty chronic and infectious disease services, and conducts community-based clinical and behavioral research.
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About Legal Assistance Foundation
LAF helps families and individuals living in poverty to resolve their non-criminal legal issues and get back on track.  LAF’s more than 80 full-time attorneys and staff provide comprehensive free legal services for civil problems, including domestic violence, consumer fraud, and unfair evictions.  We make equal justice a reality in metropolitan Chicago and break the cycle of poverty. For over 40 years, LAF has been providing professional legal services to tens of thousands of people in metropolitan Chicago.
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About AIDS Legal Council of Chicago
Founded over twenty-seven years ago, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (ALCC) uses the power of the law to secure health, dignity, and stability for people with HIV, individuals facing homelessness, and chronically-ill children. We assist low-income people manage the complexities, barriers, and unique stigma they face to remaining healthy. In order to achieve our mission, our work focuses on three core areas: free and immediate legal assistance, education, and public policy.


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