Social and Health Justice Program Sees to Basic Needs of Seniors

This program is a partnership between Seattle University Law School and Swedish Medical Center, known as the Public Benefits Assistance Project, Medical Legal Partnership between Seattle University School of Law and Swedish Medical Center. Modeled after the preeminent national model of medical legal partnerships—National Center for Medical Legal Partnership—the SU SMC program started in spring of 2010.

The main task of the SU SMC Public Benefits Assistance Project—Medical Legal Partnership (PBAP-MLP) is to identify and enroll eligible Swedish Family Medicine, 1st Hill Clinic patients age 50 and above into a public benefit program known as the COPES program. Both Swedish Medical and Seattle U School of Law have a strong commitment to financial justice, believing it to be a direct contributor to health and wellness. SMC patients live in the greater Seattle urban area, including many in the urban core.

The immediate impact of community members’ enrollment is to build a social safety and wellness net. First, specific patient needs are systematically addressed in the formal assessment tool. Medical transport, hygiene, nutrition, medication reminders, medical appointment reminders, and concrete medical devices are just some of the customized care plan. Second, the patient perceives a stronger sense of social connection. Third, a coordinated care team enhances provider collaboration and communication. Finally, unmet needs due to financial paucity are eliminated.