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Hospital’s legal advocacy program for children receives $25,000 grant

[January 04 2011] - The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project (MLPP), a collaborative effort providing legal services to help area poor and at-risk children receive optimal medical care, was awarded a second $25,000 grant from the American Savings Foundation.

Through the 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 (HCC) 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.

“The program would not be possible without the support of the American Savings Foundation grant,” says Antoinetta M. Capriglione, M.D., chief of Pediatrics, who adds that grant funding has helped provide physician education on how to navigate the legal system as it pertains to children’s health, contributing to program growth.

In 2009, HCC’s MLPP provided legal representation or consultation for nearly 60 area children. It also opened a part-time legal clinic at Community Mental Health Affiliates in New Britain.

“We’ve seen some immediate benefits regarding substandard housing, help with utility bills for chronically ill children, and in trying to help impact the health of children with asthma where so many of the triggers are based on their living conditions,” says Capriglione.

In addition to providing legal consultation for program referrals and HCC-affiliated providers, grant funding will support training for physicians, other healthcare providers and social service staff on legal issues affecting children’s health. Training has included education, bullying, and adolescent confidentiality in healthcare. The grant will also support a future utility clinic at HCC to help low-income families maintain utility services, also needed for good health outcomes.

Attorney Jay Sicklick, director of the CCA’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project is grateful to the American Savings Foundation for its continued program support. The Foundation’s initial grant of $25,000 was made in 2008, the MLPP’s first year.

Sicklick says, “The MLPP combines legal expertise with pediatric care to help vulnerable children access the services they need to live healthy lives. The continuation of this program at The Hospital of Central Connecticut is critical to providing the support needed by so many families living in poverty in the greater New Britain area.”

“The Foundation has a history of supporting programs that promote health and wellness in the community,” says David Davison, president & CEO of American Savings Foundation. “We applaud the Hospital of Central Connecticut for partnering with the Center for Children’s Advocacy to bring this service to children and families in need.”

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. The Hospital of Central Connecticut was the third hospital in the state to initiate such a partnership. The CCA’s program was only the second in the nation; the first was at Boston Medical Center.