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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU to provide free legal assistance for patients, families

vcuChildren’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU has launched a partnership with McGuireWoods and Dominion Energy to make an additional 50 attorneys available to families with legal needs that impact the health of their children.

This relationship significantly expands the existing Medical-Legal Partnership – Richmond program, which began in 2018 and offers free legal advice and representation for eligible patients and families in Richmond and surrounding counties.

“MLP-Richmond has received approximately 200 referrals of families at the Children’s Pavilion and VCU Massey Cancer Center each of the past two years, but there are many more who can benefit from this professional assistance,” said Allison Held, associate general counsel and director of MLP-Richmond at VCU Health. “The generosity and willingness of these attorneys from outside the health care industry to donate their time and work alongside us to help patients in difficult situations is remarkable.”

With the addition of these attorneys, MLP-Richmond has expanded to provide access to legal counsel at no cost to families of pediatric patients at Virginia Treatment Center for Children and CHoR’s Brook Road Campus, along with adult patients at VCU Health’s Complex Care Clinic.

Pro bono services covered by the McGuireWoods and Dominion Energy attorneys include housing law (eviction defense, repairs, substandard housing conditions, etc.); immigration relief (as it relates to access to care); family law (child custody, guardianship, domestic violence); simple wills, powers of attorney and advance medical directives; and education advocacy (IEP eligibility and enforcement, 504 plans, bullying, etc.).

MLP-Richmond services offered by the on-site attorneys through the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society and CancerLINC also include health and public benefits (Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, etc.), and employment and consumer law (bankruptcy, debt collection defenses, garnishment protection, etc.).

“McGuireWoods is pleased to partner with two of our community’s strongest groups – Dominion and VCU – in meeting legal needs through a medical legal partnership,” said Jon Harmon, McGuireWoods’ chairman. “We applaud VCU’s initiative to treat the whole person by addressing social issues rooted in legal problems for its patients. To the extent our legal assistance improves the health and well-being of patients and families, we are all the better for it.”

This initiative uses the Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines for income eligibility as they are more generous than poverty guidelines and enable the program to serve more patients with legal needs who cannot afford a lawyer.

“Dominion Energy is a public service corporation and we believe that our duty to serve extends beyond just providing affordable energy but also to finding ways to improve our communities,” said Carlos M. Brown, senior vice president and general counsel for Dominion Energy. “We are excited about the potential that our partnership with McGuireWoods and VCU Health will have on improving the lives of some of our most vulnerable customers. Our commitment to the medical-legal partnership is part of our belief that our actions speak louder than our words.”

“This partnership is a game-changer for us,” Held said. “It will enable us to serve more patients with legal needs that affect their health and well-being, and who have nowhere else to turn. That’s what MLP-Richmond is all about – improving community health through legal advocacy.”

augusta free press
augusta free press