Yale New Haven’s Pediatric Medical-Legal Partnership
October 25, 2019
It’s Monday morning, and the pediatric primary care center at the Yale New Haven Hospital buzzes with activity. A mother and a nurse kneel on either side of a squirming toddler, trying to keep the child still long enough to take a height measurement. One doctor rushes through the hallways, searching for an Arabic interpreter; another stops to chat with a social worker. The walls are brightly colored, and some of the ceiling panels are painted with rainbows, clowns, stars in a blue sky. Children tend to be scared of white coats, so the doctors here don’t wear them.
Alice Rosenthal has been called into a patient’s room in the middle of the primary care center. After chatting with the patient’s father, Rosenthal emerges from the room and explains why she’d been requested by the patient’s pediatrician. The family’s utilities keep being turned off — even though the father says he’s been paying the bills. And even though their utilities are working now, Rosenthal wants to act preemptively. The family are immigrants from Turkey, she explains, and they have two young children. They also have a caseworker through a New Haven nonprofit called IRIS, or Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services. Later, Rosenthal reaches out to the family’s IRIS caseworker, hoping to connect and work together if necessary.
Rosenthal is a lawyer with the Center for Children’s Advocacy, or CCA, in Hartford, but she works full time at the hospital. Here, she’s the attorney at Yale New Haven’s pediatric medical-legal partnership — a program which integrates her legal services into the hospital’s medical team.