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Blythedale Children’s Hospital supports patients’ rights

Social determinants of health can have a severe impact on guardians caring for medically fragile children. In January 2020, Blythedale Children’s Hospital partnered with the New York Legal Assistance Group to help patients and their families struggling with issues including housing, immigration, transportation and food insecurity, understand their rights and resolve concerns impacting their ability to care for their children.

Each month, Blythedale holds two legal clinics with families preregistered for specific time slots. Referrals for the clinics are received from Blythedale staff — most commonly social workers and case managers — and the hospital’s onsite school (Mt. Pleasant Blythedale UFSD). Staff are encouraged to make referrals. The clinic offers a certified medical Spanish-language interpreter to be present to assist families and help them feel comfortable when talking about their concerns. Clinics are confidential and free consultations aimed to help as many families as possible through legal work and resource direction. An onsite representative follows up, as needed, throughout the month with the patient families seeking assistance. The NYLAG Legal Health division also serves as a resource for Blythedale staff to better direct patient families.

While the program launched in January, the demand for this program is being carefully monitored. The initial interest confirms Blythedale’s expectations that the need for this legal service is tremendous. The hospital plans to build the program accordingly to better serve the unique population of medically complex infants, children and adolescents, as well as their parents and caregivers.

For more information, contact Susan Murray, LCSW, vice president, patient experience, clinical outreach and care coordination services, at (914) 831-2443 or smurray@blythedale.org.