Health and Home: Family Finds Support from Medical-Legal Partnership

an adult man plays a game with his son, tossing him into the air

We all need to lean on others when times get tough. At the Medical-Legal Community Partnership, we know that family units can provide care and support during uncertain times. 

In 2019, Alex’s sister unexpectedly passed away. He traveled to Oregon to pay his respects and upon arriving, learned his sister's two young children (ages 11 and 6) were going to be placed in the foster care system.  There were no family members nearby to care for the children. 

After consulting with the proper authorities in Oregon and Pennsylvania, Alex brought the children to his home in Philadelphia and became their primary caregiver. However, due to the COVID-related court closures, he could not obtain a proper custody order in Philadelphia. 

This roadblock had a major impact on the family: Alex’s 11 year old nephew needed emergency surgery to remove a crayon that had been lodged in the child’s ear for several years. However, the surgery could not be performed until Alex was granted legal custody and could give consent for the surgery on his nephew. Luckily, the child was a patient at a Philadelphia Department of Public Health Center and the child’s pediatrician recognized the family’s need for legal assistance and referred Alex to the Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP) at PLA.  

Alex soon thereafter met with James, a staff attorney from the MLCP. After consultation with the medical team and Alex, an emergency custody petition was filed with Family Court. 

Alex was able to quickly obtain a custody order for the two young children and his nephew was able to have the necessary surgery to remove the crayon from his ear. Alex could now legally care for the two young children that had tragically lost their Mother.

Alex’s story embodies the mission of the  Medical-Legal Community partnership: to address the socio-legal needs of our community with a guiding hand. 

For more information or to learn more about the MLCP, visit: