Hospital's legal advocacy program for children receives $25,000 grant
[February 20 2012] -
A 5-year-old boy stricken with muscular dystrophy is getting around a bit easier these days, thanks to advocacy from The Hospital of Central Connecticut's Medical-Legal Partnership Project (MLPP), recently awarded its third $25,000 grant from American Savings Foundation.
This latest grant will support the 2012 work of the MLPP, which to date has helped 145 area poor and at-risk children receive optimal medical care. Separate $25,000 Foundation grants were received in 2008 and 2010.
Through MLPP, the hospital works with the Center for Children's Advocacy (CCA), a Connecticut-based non-profit agency that provides legal services for children at risk. Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) pediatricians and the center's MLPP attorneys team to help better children's health by striving to improve healthcare access and reduce adverse social factors like substandard housing. Other concerns may include disability and other basic need benefits, utility issues, Medicaid and HUSKY concerns, and educational rights.
John Trouern-Trend, M.D., HOCC interim chief of Pediatrics, says, "Given the current climate of fiscal constraint we are indeed fortunate that the American Savings Foundation has chosen to renew this grant. Without it MLPP could not have continued." Of particular program benefit, he adds, are asthmatic patients who have benefited as a result of the program's ability to promote improvement in substandard living conditions, thereby reducing patients' asthma triggers.
Bonnie Roswig, senior staff attorney for the MLPP of the CCA, says MLPP legal representation "demystifies the legal process and it gives families the support to navigate through complex legal issues."
For example, the MLPP began representing the boy with muscular dystrophy in 2010 after denial of Social Security child disability benefits. The child has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a type of muscular dystrophy more common in boys and that is marked by progressive muscle weakness and, as in this boy's case, can affect the heart. "This is a situation where you really need a lawyer to navigate through the process," Roswig notes.
She submitted extensive medical documentation and analysis of why the child should be benefit-eligible and represented the mother at an appeals hearing. Those efforts proved beneficial as the child now receives almost $700 monthly to help with his medical care and support, as well as help from a community organization. Roswig also secured support from the school system to ensure Americans with Disabilities Act requirements are in place for the youth. This means, for example, the school provides a wheelchair for school use and the school bus picks up the child at the school door.
In addition to providing legal consultation for program referrals and HOCC-affiliated providers, Foundation grant funding will support training for physicians, other healthcare providers and social service staff on legal issues affecting children's health.
David Davison, president and CEO of American Savings Foundation, says, "Every child deserves the chance to succeed. Chronic health issues shouldn't hold a child back. This program makes sure that children and families who really need it get the help they deserve. We see the results, and that's why we continue to fund the Medical-Legal Partnership Project."
Attorney Jay Sicklick, director of the CCA's Medical-Legal Partnership Project, says, "I think it's a great testament to both the American Savings Foundation and The Hospital of Central Connecticut to renew the support through the grant because it really helps us continue our work which is geared toward improving the health outcomes of those children most at risk in the New Britain Area and that are served by The Hospital of Central Connecticut and its affiliated faculty."
The MLPP serves children in Greater New Britain, including the towns of Bristol, Southington, Plainville, and Berlin, namely children and their families who are uninsured, underinsured, and with low incomes.