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SwedishAmerican announces medical-legal partnership with Prairie State Legal Services

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – SwedishAmerican and Prairie State Legal Services have announced a medical-legal partnership (MLP) which integrates civil legal services with health care to address health-harming social needs and social inequities to improve residents’ health.

The MLP allows SwedishAmerican patients to access no-cost civil legal services for important legal issues including eviction defense, apartment repairs, expunging criminal records, obtaining orders of protection or divorce, preparing advanced directives, obtaining guardianship of a minor or disabled adult, fighting housing discrimination, addressing problems with public benefits, filing for bankruptcy, fighting foreclosure, and more.

SwedishAmerican patients living in Winnebago County can request a referral for legal help by contacting the case management department at 779-696-4175. An attorney will meet with clients by appointment at SwedishAmerican on Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the East Garden Entrance, SwedishAmerican Hospital, 1401 E State St. All individuals asking for legal help will be screened for eligibility for free legal services before talking to an attorney, and there is no guarantee of representation.

“Through this partnership, we can work with SwedishAmerican providers and staff to help vulnerable and low income patients overcome legal barriers to their health, safety, and well-being,” said Kira Devin, attorney at Prairie State Legal Services. “When patients bring up an issue to their provider or case manager, they can get referred to an attorney who will meet with them on-site to discuss their case, inform them of their rights, and possibly have an attorney go to court for them. One common legal issue in the Rockford area is evictions. Rockford has the highest eviction rate in Illinois with most landlords having an attorney but most tenants going to court unrepresented. We can help tenants defend against unlawful evictions to bridge the representation gap and prevent homelessness.”

The partnership is funded by the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ Community Grants Program.

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