COLLEGE STATION, TX — Cook Children’s Health Care System is collaborating with the Texas A&M University School of Law (TAMU Law) to create a new medical-legal partnership. The mission of this collaboration is to provide free legal services to patients and families with legal needs that directly affect their health and access to medical care.
“The health and well-being of our patients is impacted by so many factors beyond the scope of traditional medical care,” said Dr. Vida Amin, medical director of Cook Children’s Neighborhood Clinics. “Having an accessible, dedicated resource for our families to turn to for assistance in navigating their legal challenges will be an invaluable addition to the family-centered care we strive to provide every day.”
Social workers at Cook's are often contacted by patient families who have been unsuccessful in qualifying for public benefits, obtaining a guardianship for their incapacitated adult child or communicating with their landlord to re-mediate unsafe housing issues; all of which, can have social, economic, and environmental impact on a child's well-being.
The medical-legal partnership allows law students the opportunity to develop and apply their skills on behalf of clients who cannot afford legal representation.
“We are giving these children and their families a chance of success by increasing their quality of life by decreasing their unresolved legal needs,” said Robert B. Ahdieh, Dean of the Texas A&M School of Law.
Launched back in March 2020, Felicia Carey is one of the program’s first clients. She was referred to TAMU Law after her sister passed away, leaving her to care for three teenagers, including a niece diagnosed with spina bifida.
“At first it was very difficult because I lost the paperwork that allowed me guardianship so I could take the children to the doctor,” Carey said. “A social worker at Cook Children’s referred me to the program and it’s been phenomenal. They made a process, which was unbearable, extremely easy.”
Since finalizing her guardianship issues, Carey is now working with TAMU Law on an adult adoption, veterans benefits and developing her will. The program also provides patients and families with access to legal services in family law, housing and public benefits.
“Our job is to prepare compassionate lawyers who will advocate tirelessly for their clients” Ahdieh said. “That’s what sets Texas A&M Law a part from other law schools. We embody our core values, especially selfless service.”