April 9, 2008

For immediate release

Lawyers Provide Free Assistance on National Health Care Decisions Day

New York, April 9, 2008. LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), announced today that it will provide free legal assistance to New Yorkers wanting to leave instructions for doctors describing the kind of medical treatment they want in the event they become incapacitated. LegalHealth will host health care planning tables at ten hospital sites throughout the city in honor of National Health Care Decision Day on April 16th.

Julie Brandfield, Associate Director of LegalHealth, explained, “Many people do not understand that, if you become unable to communicate your medical wishes, your family or friends may not be allowed to make health decisions for you. It is important to make those decisions known in advance through simple but legal documents.  Throughout the year, and with a special focus on April 16th, LegalHealth is available to provide both the forms and legal assistance in helping people be prepared in times of medical crisis.”

LegalHealth attorneys, paralegals, and legal interns will assist anyone over the age of 18 to designate a health care proxy who can make medical decisions and to prepare a “living will” specifying what care is desired and what is not.  Advocates will also assist members of the general public register “advance directives” with the U.S. Living Will Registry, an online service where hospitals and doctors have immediate, 24-hour access in an emergency.
Working jointly with NYLAG’s Total Life Choices program in promoting the citywide effort, LegalHealth will set up tables at the following locations:

  •     Bellevue Hospital, 462 First Avenue, Wednesday, April 16, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  •     Beth Israel Medical Center, at 10 Union Square East, Friday, April 11, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  •     Community Health Center of Richmond (Staten Island), at 235 Port Richmond Avenue
  •     Friday, April 11, 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  •     Elmhurst Hospital, at 79-01 Broadway, Wednesday, April 16, 9:30 a.m. – 12 noon
  •     Jacobi Hospital, at 1400 Pelham Parkway, Thursday, April 17, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  •     Kings County Hospital, at 451 Clarkson Avenue, Friday, April 18, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  •     Lincoln Hospital, at 234 East 149th Street, Wednesday, April 16, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  •     North Central Bronx Hospital, 3424 Kossuth Avenue, Thursday, April 24, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  •     South Bronx Center for Children & Families, at 871 Prospect Avenue, Thursday, April 17,
  •     9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

St. Luke’s Hospital, at 111 West 114th Street , Friday, April 18, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

These clinics are in addition to LegalHealth’s regular, weekly legal clinics in 14 New York City hospitals and are intended to draw public attention to the importance of advance directives.

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The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) provides free civil legal services to New Yorkers who cannot afford private attorneys. Founded in 1990 on the premise that low-income individuals can improve their lives significantly if given access to the justice system, NYLAG has a comprehensive range of services and core practice areas. For more information, go to www.nylag.org.