Through her work with the school’s Medical Legal Partnership, a Mitchell Hamline student recently prevented a vulnerable St. Paul woman from ending up homeless.
Kaitlyn Stamson, who will be a third-year student in the fall, acted as an advocate for the client under the supervision of Mitchell Hamline faculty, filing government documents on her behalf and negotiating with insurance carriers over disability claims.
The case also gave Stamson crucial real-life experience as a lawyer. “I just think it was a great experience,” she said. “It’s so different than shadowing. It was more than just research. Now I know I can go in and do real practice.”
It all started when a 38-year old woman approached Mitchell Hamline’s Medical Legal Partnership for help in November 2015. The woman, who’s developmentally disabled, had been hospitalized and was unable to work. She was falling behind on her rent and other expenses.
Staff at the partnership, a part of Mitchell Hamline’s nationally-ranked Health Law Institute, assisted the woman in withdrawing money from her retirement account so she could catch up on rent.
Stamson took over the woman’s case early in 2016 as part of the school’s Health Law Clinic and began working on a longer-term solution. The woman was teetering on the edge of homelessness, unable able to work or pay her bills.
After three months of filing unemployment and long-term disability claims with the government and insurance companies, Stamson finally secured a package that put her client on stable ground. It provided her with $5,000 in back benefits and will give her $1,200 a month in long-term disability payments over the next two years.
“I don’t think there was any way she could have been able to fill out everything for this,” Stamson said.
Stamson is happy she was able to help her client, and she says her dream job is to work as an attorney in a hospital setting.
The Health Law Clinic is one of 17 clinical programs available to Mitchell Hamline students. The Medical Legal Partnership, a first-of-its-kind effort in the state of Minnesota, was started in 2014 with the help of United Family Medicine. Financial support for the project is provided by the F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Saint Paul Foundation, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation.