There are dozens of clinics at ZSFG, and in many of them you may find a volunteer from Health Advocates screening patients for social or legal issues that may prove difficult to navigate. As a result, patients benefit from a wide range of resources volunteers can access on their behalf, which address housing or food insecurity, mental health or educational concerns, or public assistance support. This unique program is helping patients improve their quality of life, which in turn improves their or their families’ health outcomes.

Anais Amaya, the Health Advocates program director, says “There was this misconception that health care alone made health, but they weren’t taking into account any social factors,
so we are changing that.”

One of those additional resources comes in the form of the Medical-Legal Partnership. When Anais and her volunteer team identify patients facing legal obstacles—particularly those directly impacting their health—they call in an attorney from the Partnership for advice, and often, for pro bono legal aid.

Jia Min Cheng is a staff attorney for Bay Area Legal Aid, and she frequently supports ZSFG patients identified through Health Advocates. Recently, Anais and Jia Min teamed up to help Rosa Rodriguez, whose child was getting a routine checkup at the ZSFG Children’s Health Center. Rosa was trying to transfer into a new public housing facility. She felt her current housing, and violence nearby, was having a negative effect on her and her child’s well-being. Jia Min was able to quickly secure a transfer request through the right channels and Rosa and her family were able to move into a home better suited to her family’s health needs.

“It is really nice to see the looks on their faces when they understand ‘I have legal rights around this, I can stand up for myself, and stand up for my family, and get a home that is healthy for my children to live in,’” said Jia Min.

The Foundation recently honored Anais and Jia Min for their partnership and for demonstrating the kinds of programs only available at ZSFG to not only care for patients, but improve the quality of their lives.

Visit the Foundation’s YouTube channel to learn more about Anais, Jia Min, and Rosa, and the helping hands available to improve health outcomes: