Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU collaborates with McGuireWoods and Dominion Energy to provide free legal assistance for patients and families

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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University has launched a partnership with McGuireWoods and Dominion Energy to make an additional 50 attorneys available to families with legal needs that impact the health of their children. This relationship significantly expands the existing Medical-Legal Partnership – Richmond program, which began in January 2018 and offers free legal advice and representation for eligible patients and families in Richmond and surrounding counties.

“MLP-Richmond has received approximately 200 referrals of families at the Children’s Pavilion and VCU Massey Cancer Center each of the past two years, but there are many more who can benefit from this professional assistance,” said Allison Held, associate general counsel and director of MLP-Richmond at VCU Health. “The generosity and willingness of these attorneys from outside the health care industry to donate their time and work alongside us to help patients in difficult situations is remarkable.”

With the addition of these attorneys, MLP-Richmond has expanded to provide access to legal counsel at no cost to families of pediatric patients at Virginia Treatment Center for Children and CHoR’s Brook Road Campus, along with adult patients at VCU Health’s Complex Care Clinic.

Pro bono services covered by the McGuireWoods and Dominion Energy attorneys include housing law (eviction defense, repairs, substandard housing conditions, etc.); immigration relief (as it relates to access to care); family law (child custody, guardianship, domestic violence); simple wills, powers of attorney and advance medical directives; and education advocacy (IEP eligibility and enforcement, 504 plans, bullying, etc.). MLP-Richmond services offered by the on-site attorneys through the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society and CancerLINC also include health and public benefits (Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, etc.), and employment and consumer law (bankruptcy, debt collection defenses, garnishment protection, etc.).

Takia Gant, whose 1-year-old son Adrian has cerebral palsy, knows first-hand the importance of legal assistance as a component of comprehensive health care. When her apartment had an unpleasant smell and was overrun with rodents, her already-fragile son experienced recurrent illness. She tried many times to get the general manager to take action without success. Tiffany Kimbrough, M.D., Adrian’s pediatrician at CHoR, referred Gant to MLP-Richmond.

“Within a month, the attorney got us out of the apartment and into a new one. She even got my rent reduced at the new apartment to match what I was paying before,” Gant said. “Having somebody to help me made my life so much easier. She was basically my voice. She still calls and checks up on me to make sure everything is going great.”

Adrian has not been sick in four months and is no longer on supplemental oxygen as he prepares to celebrate his second birthday.

“Imagine a child living in public housing has asthma and there is a mold problem. This could be life-threatening. We now have partners on board to help take care of the whole child and family – to get them appropriate housing and keep them healthy,” Kimbrough said. “MLP-Richmond helps with everything from wheelchair ramps and custody support to education advocacy. They are helping us make sure every child has the opportunity for a healthy future.”

Jon Harmon, McGuireWoods’ chairman, said, “McGuireWoods is pleased to partner with two of our community’s strongest groups – Dominion and VCU – in meeting legal needs through a medical legal partnership. We applaud VCU’s initiative to treat the whole person by addressing social issues rooted in legal problems for its patients. To the extent our legal assistance improves the health and well-being of patients and families, we are all the better for it.”

This initiative uses the Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines for income eligibility as they are more generous than poverty guidelines and enable the program to serve more patients with legal needs who cannot afford a lawyer.

“Dominion Energy is a public service corporation and we believe that our duty to serve extends beyond just providing affordable energy but also to finding ways to improve our communities,” said Carlos M. Brown, senior vice president and general counsel for Dominion Energy. “We are excited about the potential that our partnership with McGuireWoods and VCU Health will have on improving the lives of some of our most vulnerable customers. Our commitment to the medical-legal partnership is part of our belief that our actions speak louder than our words.”

“This partnership is a game-changer for us,” Held said. “It will enable us to serve more patients with legal needs that affect their health and well-being, and who have nowhere else to turn. That’s what MLP-Richmond is all about – improving community health through legal advocacy.”

About Dominion Energy

More than 7 million customers in 18 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy with more than $100 billion of assets providing electric generation, transmission and distribution, as well as natural gas storage, transmission, distribution and import/export services. The company expects to cut generating fleet carbon dioxide emissions 55 percent by 2030 and reduce methane emissions from its gas assets 50 percent by 2030. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.

About McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP is a leading international law firm with 1,100 lawyers in 21 offices worldwide. It continuously ranks among the top firms in Financial Times’ prestigious North America Innovative Lawyers report. The firm has been recognized 14 times on BTI Consulting’s Client Service A-Team — elite firms singled out for client service excellence based on unprompted feedback from clients in major companies. Its full-service public affairs arm, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC, offers infrastructure and economic development, strategic communications and grassroots advocacy, and government relations solutions. For more information, visit www.mcguirewoods.com.