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Legal center for patients opens at ECMC

The MedLaw Cancer Partnership of Western New York, an effort to provide free legal assistance to Erie County Medical Center patients, opened Thursday at the hospital.

The partnership is a project of the Center for Elder Law & Justice, ECMC, Western New York Breast Health and the ECMC Foundation. It intends to link lawyers with doctors, nurses, social workers and other hospital staff to help refer patients who experience legal problems related to their health issues.

MedLaw will offer community education, full representation or brief advice for such matters as access to state and federal public benefits, health insurance, housing and utilities, employment, legal status, planning for future decision-making, end of life planning and consumer issues. Its attorneys will also provide training sessions for hospital staff, and educational events on important legal topics for patients and the community.

Assemblywomen Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Monica Wallace praised the effort at the opening, saying such support services are needed by some patients.

“MedLaw combines the passion and knowledge of a proven legal services agency with the prestige of one of our region’s largest hospitals, including the skills of exceptional health care providers, all in an effort to improve health outcomes and quality of life for our local population.” Rachel S. Baldassaro, project director, said in a statement.

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