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Wayne State law school fellowship program helps low-income Karmanos cancer patients

April 16, 2013

After she graduated from the Wayne State University Law School in 2011, Kathy Smolinski was awarded a fellowship to open a program that provides legal advice to outpatients at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. The two-year fellowship made sense to Smolinksi in that she had spent 16 years as an oncology social worker. She decided to become a lawyer to continue advocacy for low-income cancer patients. "It is a medical-legal project, but it really is a health care delivery model because legal services are integrated right into the other (health care) services provided" at Karmanos, she said. Through the Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer project, Smolinksi has helped more than 120 Karmanos patients. "We focus on patients in the outpatient setting because those inpatients are too sick to do anything," she said. "We focus on helping patients with insurance, housing, employment, legal or long-term planning (wills and advanced directives) and public benefits" such as Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, Smolinski said.