Upstate News

August 14, 2008
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Free legal clinic for patients relocates

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — To reach a greater number of patients who need legal advice on healthcare issues, the free Legal Clinic for patients of University and Crouse hospitals has changed its location from Crouse Hospital to Room 2239 University Hospital in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). Clinic hours are noon to 2 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month and 5 to 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

The clinic, which does not meet the fifth Tuesday of the month, is open to all patients of University and Crouse hospitals or family members who will speak on behalf of the patient.

“Assisting patients with legal concerns associated with their healthcare can contribute to successful patient outcomes since they are relieved of the stress that accompanies these matters,” said Brian Rieger, Ph.D., chief psychologist and director of rehabilitation psychology in the PM&R Department.

The availability of free legal clinics for patients is part of a national trend of medical and legal collaborations, according to James Williams, attorney for the Pro Bono Action Now Program.

“Often, it is difficult for patients to cope with their legal affairs when they are also faced with the anxiety of hospitalization,” he said. “We help to alleviate this stress by offering them free legal advice on a myriad of concerns that surround their care, such as issues related to housing, family law, insurance, Medicaid/Medicare and education.”

The clinic is staffed by Williams; volunteer lawyers Edward McArdle, Christine Waters, Wendy Reese and Matthew VanBeveren; and Pro Bono Action Now law assistants Eileen Steinhardt and Michele Czornij.

The Legal Clinic is a collaborative effort of the Fifth Judicial District Pro Bono Action Now Committee, the Onondaga County Bar Association, and University and Crouse Hospitals. Walk-ins are welcome. Patients who are unable to attend clinic hours may make an appointment in advance by calling 315-703-6576.

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