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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals Expands Legal Services for Patients

Nearly 5,000 patients accessed legal services at NYC Health + Hospitals in 2023

LegalHealth provides legal services across the health system in an initiative funded in part by the New York City Council

Apr 29, 2024

A family accessing free services through the LegalHealth clinic at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the expansion of free health-related legal services for its patients in partnership with LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). Nearly 5,000 patients accessed legal services at NYC Health + Hospitals in 2023. The expansion includes increased staffing, capacity building for increased patient access, and data driven analysis on how legal services can impact patient health. Patients can access free health-related legal services over the phone or in person at one of twelve brick-and-mortar sites in the health system through a referral by a doctor, social worker, or community health worker. This is one of the longest-running and largest medical-legal partnerships in the country, which dates back to 2002 and has provided free legal assistance to thousands of New Yorkers seeking help with public benefits, immigration, health insurance, advance planning, and housing, among other legal issues. The medical-legal partnership is funded in part by the New York City Council.  

“I am so proud of the innovative work and impactful services delivered to NYC Health + Hospitals’ patients through our medical-legal partnership program,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer Nichola Davis, MD, MS. “Having lawyers that can support our clinical teams enable us to comprehensively address difficult issues such as housing instability and immigration, among others.  By addressing these issues, we can remove some of the structural barriers that lead to health inequities. This partnership helps to foster healthier individuals, families, and communities across New York City.”

“At NYLAG, we aim to increase access to justice at the community level to foster systemic change, and our partnership between LegalHealth and NYC Health + Hospitals crucially brings that access directly to patients in our city’s public hospitals,” said Randye Retkin, Director of NYLAG’s LegalHealth division. “Our dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals working together with NYC Health + Hospitals’ healthcare professionals are a formidable team in addressing health disparities, and the health system continues to be a steadfast partner in developing innovative approaches to addressing health-harming legal needs. We are grateful for this expansion of our long held medical-legal partnership to increase our capacity in serving patients of NYC Health + Hospitals.”

“Patient advocacy is key to short- and long-term health outcomes, and the Council was proud to invest in the expansion of free legal services for New Yorkers at our city’s public hospitals,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Health is a holistic endeavor, and it’s important that we continue to invest in solutions that advance an ecosystem of care. By offering free legal services for issues related to housing and immigration, patients are free to focus solely on their medical recoveries. These services are an important component to helping us combat disparities in health outcomes experienced by many low-income New Yorkers and communities of color. I am proud of our work to create healthier communities, and I look forward to our continued partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) so all New Yorkers can access the care and services they need.”

Free onsite legal services are available at the following sites in the health system:

  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Morrisania
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull


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About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About LegalHealth
Since 1990 the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) has used the power of the law to help New Yorkers in need combat social and economic injustice. NYLAG addresses emerging and urgent legal needs with comprehensive, free civil legal services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community education. Founded as a division of NYLAG in 2001, LegalHealth has grown significantly and continues to expand its capacity to meet the rising need for civil legal services in the healthcare setting. A culturally competent 54-member staff provides free legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers with chronic and serious health problems at legal clinics located within hospitals across New York City, Long Island and a new partner in Westchester. For more information visit www.legalhealth.org or www.nylag.org.