UChicago Medicine works with legal aid attorneys to provide legal aid to victims of violence

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UChicago Medicine works with legal aid attorneys to provide legal aid to victims of violence

UChicago Medicine Recovery Justice

Members of the University of Chicago Medicine and Legal Aid Chicago Recovery Legal Care Team. Photo from the December 9 University of Chicago Medicine press release.

The University of Chicago Medicine is partnering with Legal Aid Chicago to embed attorneys in the system’s trauma center in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood to help victims of violence.

Two attorneys from Legal Aid Chicago will be embedded at the trauma center two days a week, according to a Dec. 9 press release and a story by WBEZ.

The program, called Recovery Legal Care, is funded primarily through federal grants. The first year will focus on helping patients achieve public benefits and economic stability. The hope is that it will be expanded to help with housing, education and employment, the release said.

The first attorney on the program, Carly Loughran, meets with patients at their bedsides on Thursdays. A second attorney was due to join the program this week.

Loughran believes lawyers can build relationships with patients that endure after they are discharged from the hospital — a commitment of time beyond that of hospital social workers. For example, your group can appeal denials of public services and advocate for victims fighting evictions.

“Lawyers are like social workers with teeth,” Loughran told WBEZ.

Loughran is a staff attorney at Legal Aid Chicago on a two-year grant from Equal Justice Works. Recovery Legal Care is an extension of an existing UChicago Medicine program called the Violence Recovery Program.

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“Working with thousands of patients recovering from intentional violence, we have seen the physical and emotional damage of gun injuries,” said Franklin Cosey-Gay, director of the Violence Recovery Program, in a press release. “But what doesn’t always get as much attention – but can be just as damaging – is the stress of things like unsafe housing, economic stability and access to public services.”

The program has $2.6 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Justice. If the program is deemed a success, it may receive an additional $3.4 million in federal grants.

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