National medical-legal partnership conference convenes in Indianapolis

An estimated 400 attorneys, medical professionals and social workers from around the country have come to Indianapolis for the 2016 National Medical-Legal Partnership Summit.

Sponsored by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, the annual summit is designed to help promote and fortify collaborations between health centers and legal aid organizations. The two-and-a-half day conference, April 6-8, will include speakers, panel discussions and presentations on a range of topics related growing medical-legal partnerships.

James Corbett, senior vice president of community health and values integration for Centura Health in Colorado, officially kicked off the summit with the keynote address Thursday morning. He advised the attorneys, physicians and other professionals how they could advance their partnerships during this time of tremendous change in the health care industry.

The push to get the convention here began a little more than a year ago with the Indiana Health Advocacy Coalition. Leaders of IHAC brought together local legal and medical professionals to put together a bid for the summit, which included raising $20,000.

Medical-legal partnerships in Indiana date to 2008 when the first one was established between the now-Eskenazi Health, the IHAC and Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. In 2015, the Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health Medical-Legal Partnership, formed with Indiana Legal Services Inc., was recognized as the 2015 outstanding MLP by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.

Adam Mueller, director of litigation at ILS and vice president on the IHAC board of directors, sees the summit as building local enthusiasm for growing existing medical-legal partnerships and for starting new ones outside of Indianapolis.  

“This is exactly the right time for us to have the conference here,” he said. “The conference will help us move to the next level.”

Kate Marple, spokeswoman for the MLP center, said Indianapolis “was the right choice” for this year’s summit, noting the integration between the legal and medical communities as well as the continued growth of its partnership.

Among this year’s summit attendees is Dr. Lealah Pollock, an assistant professor of family and community medicine at University of California San Francisco, who came to Indianapolis with four of her colleagues. They are part of a team who helped launch a medical-legal partnership in the Bay Area in October 2015.

Pollock said she came to the summit because she wants to learn from partnerships that are well-established. Specifically, she wants to see how other collaborations demonstrate their monetary value to the health systems in terms of improving community health and patient outcomes.

“I have a lot to learn both from the medical providers and the attorneys who are here,” she said.

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