The Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) formally connects Furman University, Prisma Health Upstate, and South Carolina Legal Services in work to improve health outcomes for people throughout the Upstate, especially those living in poverty. Since the start of the MLP in 2016, the partners have integrated their systems, enhanced inter-institutional collaboration, and expanded the MLP’s core services, resulting in today’s MLP model.
The partnership—the first of its kind in South Carolina—coordinates and streamlines access to non-medical assistance when a medical problem has roots in or is made worse by a social or legal problem. Currently, the South Carolina MLP is the only one in the country—and there are nearly 300 of them, in 41 states—in which the educational institution involved is a liberal arts, undergraduate institution. The MLP works closely with the Health Sciences Center at Prisma Health, a partnership that includes Clemson University, Furman University, and University of South Carolina, to increase accessibility and affordability of healthcare services.
The MLP is committed to improving health equity and justice for all clients, promoting better health outcomes and quality of life.
Since 2016, over 20 students have interned with the MLP team providing them with transformative experiences that directly affected their educational and professional goals in medicine, law and advocacy.
On the medical side of working within the MLP, students meet with patients and their families to screen for health-harming legal problems, and on the legal side, they draft complaints, investigate claims and observe in court. The work the students observe and participate in is not only useful to the MLP but also in shaping students’ understanding of their own potential. Students have the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and abilities as it relates to the particular casework of the MLP, as well as learn about a variety of substantive areas of the law which particularly affect the health of low-income clients. The students are able to prepare for a world in which the definition of health care is rapidly expanding.