ICHS patients can now access free legal help
International Community Health Services and Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) today announced a partnership that will give low income patients free legal services. Patients referred from ICHS’ Bellevue Clinic can meet with ELAP’s attorneys for advice on issues impacting their ability to stay in good health.
“ICHS cares for patients holistically. There are many factors that impact whether someone can access and benefit from quality, preventative health care,” said Vanja Knezevic, ICHS Bellevue health center manager. ”Often, low-income and marginalized patients face social issues that can exacerbate health issues. For example, a person who is facing eviction is more likely to be stressed or depressed. Someone who is wrongfully denied public benefits might be prevented from providing healthy nutrition for their family. We’re seeking to lessen these potential health impacts.”
The health care teams at ICHS’ Bellevue Clinic will work closely with ELAP’s legal aid attorneys to identify patients who qualify. Referred patients will meet with an attorney for sessions that will be scheduled at ICHS’ Bellevue Clinic.
“We are excited to move forward with ICHS,” said Gerald Kroon, ELAP executive director. “This innovative partnership will increase access to much needed civil legal aid, addressing legal issues that adversely affect a person’s medical wellbeing.”
The new partnership is being announced as a six-month pilot program, initially only available by referral through ICHS’ Bellevue Clinic, with the possibility of being extended to include ICHS’ three other full service clinics as future funding and interest allow. Services will be available to qualifying King County residents who fall below 200% of the federal poverty level, which was $50,200 for a family of four in 2018.