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Legal aid agency, health clinic to collaborate

Pisgah Legal Services and Blue Ridge Community Health Services will collaborate in a medical legal partnership to attack "the root cause of health-harming social conditions," the legal aid agency for the poor said in a news release. A $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County will fund the partnership.

When lawyers collaborate with physicians, often the root cause of health-harming social conditions can be addressed, Pisgah Legsl Services said. The conditions include the impact on health caused by living and working conditions, air quality, diet, stress and vulnerability to crime.
While a doctor can diagnose and treat a condition, an attorney can use the law to improve the circumstances that caused it. If a child shows up at a clinic with asthma caused by living in a building with mold, for instance, an attorney can work with the landlord to repair the building; if a victim of domestic violence is hurt, an attorney can get her a protective order mandating that the abuser stay away.
“This collaboration with Blue Ridge Community Health Services will help those living in poverty in Henderson County,” Pisgah Legal Services Executive Director Jim Barrett said in a news release. “Medical-legal partnerships have been proven to be very successful in serving the neediest clients.”
“We are thrilled to be working with Pisgah Legal Services to tackle these systemic health problems,” said BRCHS Chief Executive Officer Richard Hudspeth, M.D. “Integrating their legal expertise in our medical home will help identify and address the health-harming social issues that plague our medically vulnerable patients.”
Pisgah Legal Services is a community-based nonprofit law firm serving Western North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations since 1978. Last year, the agency helped more than 2,500 Henderson County residents escape domestic violence and avoid homelessness. It provides free legal services to low-income families in six counties with offices in Hendersonville, Asheville, Brevard and Rutherfordton. For more information visit or call (800) 489-6144.