Ellen-Lawton photoWoodyThorne

Community Benefit Strategies and Medical-Legal Partnership: Leveraging Community Legal Resources to Impact Population Health

August 11, 2015
10 am PT/1 pm ET
One hour duration
Member Price: Free
Non-Member Price: Free


Ellen Lawton, JD

Ellen Lawton is a Lead Research Scientist at the George Washington University and leads the University’s National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership in the Department of Health Policy and Management. She is also the lead advisor for Walmart’s signature pro bono medical-legal partnership initiative. Ms. Lawton is internationally recognized for her leadership in developing the medical-legal partnership approach, and has published an array of articles describing this work in both clinical and legal journals. Ms. Lawton received the 2011 Innovations in Legal Services Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, is chair of the board of directors at Health Imperatives and is a member of the board of directors of Community Resources for Justice. She also serves on the national advisory committee for the Primary Care Leadership Program. Ms. Lawton was a 2004 Harvard Law School Wasserstein Fellow.

Woody Thorne

Woody Thorne is Vice President of Community Affairs for Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH), a not-for-profit integrated health care system in southern Illinois.  His responsibilities include the direction and oversight of the organization‘s marketing, communications and media relations, charitable foundation, and community benefit activities. Thorne is a past-President of the Carbondale, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and has held leadership roles within several regional, collaborative economic and community development initiatives in southern Illinois.

Thorne has served as principal investigator on a number of federal, state, and private grant funded, collaborative efforts to address the unmet health needs in the southern Illinois region.  In 2007, the US Centers for Disease Control; and Prevention recognized the SIH Community Benefit department as a Partner in Advancing Public Health, and in 2008, Thorne was recognized as a ¯Leader Among Us” in the southern Illinois region.  Thorne serves numerous community organizations as a board member or volunteer and is a committed health advocate for the community.  Thorne currently is serving on the Delta Regional Authority’s Health Advisory Committee and is serving on the national advisory board for the National Center for Medical-Legal partnerships.

Webinar Information

Social determinants of health – the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, play, and age, as well as the systems designed to improve health and treat illness – have a significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Many of these social conditions can be traced to laws that are unfairly applied or under-enforced, often leading to the improper denial of services and benefits that are designed to help vulnerable people.   Medical-legal partnership (MLP) integrates the expertise of health care, public health and legal professionals and staff to address and prevent health-harming social and legal needs for patients, hospitals, clinics and populations. By partnering together, health care, public health and legal institutions transform the health care system’s response to social determinants of health.

This session will describe the medical-legal partnership approach, in which civil legal aid resources are integrated into the health care setting to address the social determinants of health and boost health care workforce capacity. A review of MLP practice in hospital settings, and a case study of medical-legal partnership implementation and practice in a large rural hospital system, will explain the role of hospital community benefit programs in advancing medical-legal partnership and improving population health.

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