Legal Aid and MetroHealth Partnership Continues to Thrive
Through the innovative Community Advocacy Program (CAP) collaboration between Legal Aid and the MetroHealth System, attorneys from Legal Aid provide legal services to MetroHealth patients. The focus is on particular vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, re-entering prisoners, older adults and those with limited English proficiency.
The referral process at MetroHealth is key to the program’s success. Megan Sprecher, the lead Legal Aid attorney with the CAP program, spoke about these critical referrals and how the program relies upon advocates in the community such as Oscar Gumucio, PhD, of MetroHealth’s Division of Health Services for Hispanic Children and Adolescents. She states, “Dr. Gumucio is a tireless advocate for Latino children and parents and an invaluable partner. Dr. Gumucio understands that making a child healthy goes beyond what happens in the medical examining room. He makes Cleveland’s Latino children healthier with a holistic approach, advocating for the child’s education, housing, and social needs. Legal Aid is lucky to have such a passionate strong partner.”
Dr. Gumuncio recently referred Susan Warner* to Legal Aid: Ms. Warner had tried twice to obtain Social Security disability (SSI) benefits for her daughter, Ashley, but failed. Young Ashley is a smart, vivacious 5 year-old. She was doing well academically in kindergarten, but had a debilitating seizure that changed everything. Ashley was diagnosed as epileptic and has experienced significant developmental delays as a result of her epilepsy. Because of these delays, Ashley repeated kindergarten for a second time and now must attend school with a nurse because of her medical condition.
Legal Aid helped Ms. Warner and now the family receives ongoing, monthly SSI benefits to help cover the costs of Ashley’s care. The family also received a significant back payment of disability benefits. Today, Ashley’s epilepsy is well-controlled through medication and additional SSI benefits will help her obtain further help including regular counseling and speech therapy so that she can continue to find success in school and have a bright future.
The Legal Aid and MetroHealth partnership was funded in 2012 by the law firms of Thompson Hine and Benesch, along with foundation funding from the Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, George Gund Foundation, Third Federal Foundation, Kaiser Permanente of Ohio, Medical Mutual of Ohio Charitable Foundation, Frank Hadley Ginn and Cornelia Root Ginn Charitable Foundation, and RPM International Inc.
*Client name changed to protect privacy