Keeping the Heat on for Children’s Health: A Successful Medical–Legal Partnership Initiative to Prevent Utility Shutoffs in Vulnerable Children
- Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 26, Number 3, August 2015
- pp. 676-685
- Additional Information
Objective. Energy insecurity may result in adverse consequences for children’s health, particularly for children with special health needs or chronic health conditions. We aimed to determine whether a multimodal intervention addressing energy insecurity within the framework of a medical–legal partnership (MLP) resulted in an increase in the provision of certifications of medical need for utility coverage in an inner city academic primary care practice. Methods. Working within a medical–legal partnership, we standardized criteria for providers approving medical need utility certification requests. We compared prior-year utility certification requests and approvals (pre-intervention) with the intervention year for families who reported energy insecurity on a waiting-room screening questionnaire. Results. Between the first and second years of the study, certification of medical need approvals increased by 65%, preventing utility shut-offs for 396 more families with vulnerable children. Conclusions. Energy insecurity can be screened for and addressed in a busy urban practice, potentially improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children.