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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

UC Hastings Student Uses Biomedical Engineering Background to Help Patients with VLSP’s Medical-Legal Project

 

By Hali Reiskin, Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP)

 

Bill CaseyBill Casey began volunteering with VLSP as a UC Hastings 1L at the Bayview Legal Advice and Referral Clinic before approaching VLSP to pursue opportunities with the Medical-Legal Project (MLP) as its first extern. MLP teams health care providers with on-site legal services to serve low-income patients and bring a unified approach to ameliorate the root cause of health conditions plaguing communities in need. With a biomedical engineering background, along with strong communication and advocacy skills, Casey arrived well-equipped to serve on-site at MLP’s newest clinic at the Sister Mary Philippa Health Center. He has proven to be a valuable asset to the program.

Originally from Wisconsin, Casey had years of experience working for medical technology companies and volunteering for health care related organizations. With an interest in helping patients obtain and stay connected to healthcare, he was attracted to MLP’s mission and purpose. “Often, legal problems serve to prevent patients from securing appropriate care for themselves. These legal problems come in several varieties: economic problems often act as barriers [that] prevent or frustrate treatment from being sought or adhered to, homelessness can often deprive a patient of the healthy, quiet environment that is critical to battle illness…[or] domestic problems can result in lack of safety and stability for a patient,” Casey said.

In a typical case seen by MLP, a 71-year-old man suffering from thyroid disease and diabetes was chronically homeless and had been on the public housing waitlist for many years. He relied upon the generosity of friends for shelter and struggled to maintain his health treatment plan after being evicted for withholding rent to protest the failure to transfer him to a unit that could accommodate his medical needs. After years of homelessness he was still number 4,558 on the waitlist for a public housing. But through Casey’s advocacy and persistence, he was able to secure a leap to number one. As the man celebrated moving into a senior studio apartment, Casey was gracious and pleased to “take actions that improve someone’s circumstances and that have the potential to have a positive impact on their health and overall wellbeing.”

After a summer externing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington D.C., Casey has returned to MLP as a 2L, working out of the Southeast Health Clinic site in Bayview Hunters Point, where he continues to advocate on behalf of patients.

To learn more about how to volunteer with VLSP’s Medical-Legal Project, please email vlsp@sfbar.org.

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