For patients at Open Door Health Center, their next visit to a doctor or dentist can include a chat with an attorney.

Open Door Health Center CEO Doug Jaeger Jr. said, "Our providers have really noticed that through our social determinants that our patients were having a lot of barriers through legal services that they were experiencing through their personal lives."

Open Door partnered with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services to provide an on–site attorney at no cost to patients.

The service helps patients dealing with civil issues, including family law to housing law... concerns that can be a detriment to health.

Staff Attorney, SMRLS Ben Chapman said, "We've seen direct impacts such as poor housing conditions that are affecting people's health to more indirect impacts such as family issues that are causing them stress and anxiety, bringing them in."

The service adds convenience for patients when addressing legal issues, making it a one-stop shop.

It also allows some people who might not seek SMRLS help a chance to work through their legal issues.

Jaeger Jr. said, "It's been very well received. Our patients have really enjoyed it. Our providers have been referring constantly, and I think we are exceeding our expectations at this point."

Open Door Health Center started providing the service in June, expecting to help about 100 people in the first year, but at reaching that six month mark, they've already topped that number and are looking for additional ways to help patients.

Chapman said, "We're in the process of adding a pro–bono component to it, where volunteer attorneys will come in and do periodic legal checkups at Open Door's Mankato site and satellite locations."

Chapman spends about 90 percent of his time at Open Door, available during weekdays.

To learn more call (507)388-2120.

--KEYC News 12