A collaboration between the Brownsville Community Health Center and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, the Medico-Legal Partnership RioGrande Valley is helping children and families in Brownsville, Texas by integrating legal assistance into the medical setting. This new patient care model supported by the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership improves the health and well-being of those served by addressing the non-medical determinants of health, including food and energy security, housing conditions, education, and personal safety.
The organizations run by Paula S. Gómez and David G. Hall have teamed up to help patients and families when illnesses cannot be treated with just medicine. When an asthmatic child leaves the doctor’s office with medication but returns to mold-infested housing, she also needs help from an attorney who practices landlord/tenant law if she is eventually going to breathe symptom free. These are the kinds of problems the partnership addresses.
Paula has served as the Executive Director of the Brownsville Community Health Center since 1984, a 17-provider community and migrant health center primarily situated in Brownsville with two school-based clinics and two other satellite clinics as well. These sites served almost 20,000 users and offered almost ninety thousand patient visits last year. A Brownsville native, Paula has been actively involved in the community health movement both locally and nationally for more than 35 years. For her life’s dedication to providing quality comprehensive health care services to the medically underserved, Paula was awarded the Avon Breast Cancer Leadership Award in 1996 and the Louis B. Garcia Award in 1994. Among key state and federal appointments, Paula has served on the U.S. Surgeon General Committee on Hispanic Health, the Advisory Board of the National Health Service Corps, and the Advisory Board of the National Environment Justice Advisory Council. She currently sits on the Medical Advisory Committee for the State of Texas and the Texas Association of Community Health Centers.
David is currently the Executive Director of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA). He has held this position since 1975 and, under his leadership, the organization has become the largest legal aid provider in Texas and third largest in the United States. Prior to working with TRLA, Hall served as the Director of the South Texas Project for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and was an attorney with the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. He received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1969. Prior to attending law school, Hall served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela. Hall has received numerous awards and recognitions for his service, including a 2007 recognition from the Mid-West Association of Farm Workers Organization and inclusion in Texas Lawyer magazine’s “Legal Legend: A Century of Texas Law and Lawyering” as one of 100 Texas lawyers who have shaped the state’s legal history. In 1996 Hall received a special recognition from United Farm Workers of America President Cesar Chavez for his outstanding service to farmworkers.