Since 2010, Health, Education & Legal assistance Project (HELP: MLP) has worked to represent low-income adults and children in Chester, Pennsylvania in a variety of legal matters and also to train health care and social work staff to identify legal issues for referral. The program is supported by grants and recently received a third-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration that will allow it to continue pursuing its mission.
The program grew out of “Needs Assessment Surveys” of patients at Chester health care centers conducted by students participating in Widener Law’s Martin Luther King Semester of Service Program in 2009 and 2010. The results of those surveys indicated that the legal needs of low-income patients were going unmet, and as a result, Widener Law and its Health Law Institute
partnered with Chester health care providers to create HELP: MLP.
Adjunct Professor Daniel Atkins
, who serves as the co-director for HELP: MLP, helped found the program along with Professor John G. Culhane
, the Health Law Institute’s Director, and Professor Robert L. Hayman, Jr
. Laura Handel, a 2008 Widener Law graduate, has served as the full-time staff attorney since February of 2010.
"The medical-legal partnership is one of the most important initiatives associated with the Health Law Institute,” says Professor Culhane, adding, “Through the hard work of our attorneys and our dedicated students, the MLP has helped hundreds of people with legal problems that had made their lives much more difficult. The MLP represents the kind interdisciplinary, public health-based approach that will yield long-term benefits to our poorest citizens."
The program has allowed numerous graduate and undergraduate Widener students from different campuses and a variety of disciplines to receive academic credit for assisting HELP: MLP staff attorneys, and many more Widener students have lent their time through the Martin Luther King Semester of Service Program.
“Congratulations to Dan Atkins and thanks to those in our development office, especially Todd Lineburger, who have worked so ceaselessly to obtain funding for this vital project,” concludes Culhane.
To learn more about HELP: MLP, visit their website at www.helpmlp.org