News

A Medical-Legal Partnership

Samantha Rogers, PA-C, introducesKirsten Dowell to the Sticht Center on Aging.

Samantha Rogers, PA-C, introduces
Kirsten Dowell to the Sticht Center on Aging.

The medical and legal issues of older people are often connected.  The primary overlaps occur with questions about mental capacity and health care coverage.  We were fortunate to have a guest lecture from Edward Shaw, M.D.   The law students learned about memory disorders and their treatment, progression and diagnosis.  Many of these medical issues arise in guardianship cases that the students handle.  Dr. Shaw founded and directs the Memory Assessment Clinic, a cooperative effort between the WFU Department of Counseling and the WFU School of Medicine section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine.

Several students had the opportunity to observe older patients at the medical center.  As part of that process, they offered patients some basic information about legal steps that one can take to plan for possible incapacity.  And they learned about common issues that arise for elders and their families as a result of cognitive impairments.  Drs. Hal Atkinson and Julie Williams, both experienced geriatricians, demonstrated the gold standard for interacting with older patients.

As clinic student Jeanna Revell observed, “The doctors had a great mixture of a calming presence and a to-the-point structure of conversation.  I could tell within a matter of minutes that the patient was relaxing and starting to trust the physicians, though she would get flustered at points.  When this happened, the doctors were affirming and smoothly transitioned to the next phase of the assessment.  My visit to the medical clinic was wonderful and very rewarding.”

Katie Yale Barnes wrote about her visit, “I learned a lot about bedside manner.  I was blown away by how empathetic and understanding Dr. Williams was, especially with one patient’s spouse.  The patient was significantly impaired and the spouse had been having an extremely difficult time.  However, Dr. Williams remained very professional and gathered the necessary information.  I hope to be just as empathetic, yet professional, with my own clients.”

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Untangling the Tax Mess

A warm welcome from Kelly Austin.

A warm welcome from Kelly Austin.

Jeanna Revell worked on an IRS problem.  Her client’s husband had mild dementia that   apparently caused him to make errors on the couple’s tax returns.  By the time his wife learned about this from the IRS, they owed thousands of dollars.  Jeanna researched the law and gathered the information needed to request that the IRS stop the collection action.  She was successful!

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Client Reviews

client reviews box

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Improving Medical Care

Getting details from Jeanna Revell.

Getting details from Jeanna Revell.

A court-appointed guardian controls everything about an “incompetent” person’s life, within certain rules.  Kirsten Dowell helped a mother who was concerned about her mentally challenged adult son, who has a guardian.  The mother thought he was getting too many psychotropic medications.  The son’s guardian is a local agency.  Kirsten advocated for the mother and persuaded the guardian to have the son’s medications re-examined.

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News from Elder Law Clinic Alumni

Clinic alumni Erin McKee (’15), Angela Cinski (’03), Mark Edwards (‘97), Josh Apple (‘08), Aimee Smith (‘02) and Natalie Miller (‘04) attend a continuing education elder law event.

Clinic alumni Erin McKee (’15), Angela Cinski (’03), Mark Edwards (‘97), Josh Apple (‘08), Aimee Smith (‘02) and Natalie Miller (‘04) attend a continuing education elder law event.

LaRita Dingle (’15) joined Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. in Matthews, N.C.  She writes: “I’m working in the civil litigation department, drafting discovery, pleadings and motions.  I have researched issues and drafted memos for the estate planning attorney and the family law attorney.  My cases involve business litigation, breach of contract or breach of fiduciary duties.  Other cases involve, fraud, construction liens, and will caveats.”

Kathleen Rose Rodberg (’12) has joined the Asheville firm of McGuire, Wood and Bissette.

Gelila Selassie (’15) reports from Charlotte:  “My position at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont is as a Family Support Healthcare Attorney.  This involves Medicaid and ACA Marketplace administrative appeals and working as a health insurance navigator during Open Enrollment.  I do much of the same work I did in the clinic, such as determining resource limits, getting affidavits from medical providers, interviewing caretakers, etc.  I also do outreach, such as speaking to seniors about their health care options.  The E-Clinic played a huge role in preparing me for this position!”

Devon Green (’06) is enrolled in Dartmouth’s Masters in Health Care Delivery program.  It combines business and health policy training to help professionals institute value-based improvement of health care delivery.   She is also working as Special Counsel for Health Care Reform for the state of Vermont.

Ben Limehouse (’14) is now with the firm Liipfert Law Group, PLLC, in Winston-Salem.  He handles elder law and estate planning matters.

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Healthy LGBTQ Aging: Strategies for Success

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On September 23, 2015, over 75 people attended the program “Healthy LGBTQ Aging: Strategies for Success” at Parkway United Church of Christ The event was co-sponsored by the WFU Elder Law Clinic, the Shepherd’s CenterParkway UCC, and the Adam Foundation.   Additionally, a complimentary dinner was sponsored by the Craige Jenkins law firm.  It was an evening of learning and fellowship, where attendees learned about legal rights and heard from LGBTQ health care providers about navigating the health care world.  Special thanks to the N.C. Society of Health Care Attorneys for its grant support of this event.

 The speakers included:

  • Prof. Kate Mewhinney, JD (Wake Forest Elder Law Clinic),
  • Dee Leahman (Novant Health),
  • Diane Spaugh, MSW, LCSW (Hospice & Palliative Care Ctr.),
  • Kaycee M. Sink, MD (Wake Forest Baptist Med. Ctr.), and
  • Burch Johnson, NCC, LPC (CenterPoint).

View the slides from Prof. Kate Mewhinney’s legal rights presentation.

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Upcoming Event: “Healthy LGBTQ Aging: Strategies for Success”

September 23, 2015:  “Healthy LGBTQ Aging: Strategies for Success” at Parkway United Church of Christ from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. 

This free event is co-sponsored by the Elder Law Clinic, the Shepherd’s CenterParkway UCC, and the Adam Foundation.     

Click here to register by September 16th.

Complimentary dinner is sponsored by the Craige Jenkins law firm.  The speakers will be: Prof. Kate Mewhinney, JD (Wake Forest Elder Law Clinic), Dee Leahman (Novant Health), Diane Spaugh, MSW, LCSW (Hospice & Palliative Care Ctr.), Kaycee M. Sink, MD (Wake Forest Baptist Med. Ctr.), and Burch Johnson, NCC, LPC (CenterPoint).

For questions call (336) 758-5061 or email eclinic@wfu.edu.

A Caring Response to LGBT Clients

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On August 4, 2015, over 65 people attended the program “A Caring Response to LGBT Clients” sponsored by the Elder Law Clinic and the PTRC Area Agency on Aging Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman ProgramThe event took place at Senior Services.  Professor Kate Mewhinney, long-term care ombudsman Jennifer Harriss, and third-year law student Crissy Dixon presented a cultural competency training program to staff and volunteers of long-term care facilities, community-based aging service providers, and concerned family and loved ones.

Upcoming Event: A Caring Response to LGBT Clients

The Elder Law Clinic and the PTRC Area Agency on Aging Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program are sponsoring a FREE cultural competency training using the film Gen Silent. 

 

WHEN: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

WHERE: Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Dr., Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27105

WHAT: This is a free cultural competency training program using the critically acclaimed film, Gen Silent.  Light refreshments will be served.

WHO: Staff and volunteers of long-term care facilities, community-based aging service providers, and concerned family and loved ones.

WHY: The purpose of the training is to raise awareness of the unique issues and concerns of LGBT older adults. From this training, you can expect to learn “best practices” for those who work with LGBT older adults, to ensure that they feel welcomed and are treated with dignity and respect.

 

Click here for the event flyer and registration information.  Registration deadline is July 31, 2015. 

Students Help Clients Decide

Older clients usually can make good decisions. But some clients have deficits we need to understand. Other clients are clearly unable to understand legal options. Some clients are fighting for the right to keep making decisions (both good and bad). And some clients are under pressure from limited options.

Spring 2015 Group - web

                                             LaRita Dingle, Crissy Dixon, Jasmine Pitt, Mario Ramsey, Alina Buccella

Who Can Decide?
Mr. B owns his home with his two adult children. They all live together and share expenses. His choices about a will are clear and freely made.

Who Cannot Decide?
Mrs. S has memory problems, so she lives in the secure wing of an assisted living facility. Her only son needs to sell her home in Virginia. This will involve guardianship laws of North Carolina and Virginia. The house sale is just step one. The next issue will be keeping her eligible for valuable coverage to pay for her care.

Who Wants To Decide?
Mr. T is an eccentric writer who landed in the hospital and wants to return to his mountain home. But the medical staff decided that would not be safe. A court will decide if Mr. T can make a risky choice about where to live.

Who Needs Help With Decisions?
Mrs. R is deaf and recently had a stroke. To accommodate her, the clinic student used a sign-language interpreter and met Mrs. R at her home.

Who May Need Protection?
Ninety-one-year-old Mrs. L has no relatives or close friends. She wants all her medical and financial matters to be handled by the young home health aide from the Medicaid agency. And she wants to leave her property to that nice young lady! Can she? Should she?

The clinic students helped all of these people. They patiently handled challenging communication difficulties and analyzed tricky ethical dilemmas about decision makers. Meeting their clients in homes, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, courtrooms, clinic offices, and community centers, they showed great compassion and intelligence. These clinic students will be superb advocates and caring members of the communities where they practice. Congratulations on a job well done!

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