Photo of Katherine Purrington

Katherine Purrington

  • Hosted by Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
  • Sponsored by Pfizer Inc.
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • Issue area Health Care
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Katherine improved health outcomes and increased access to health insurance throughout immigrant communities in NYC, particularly in East Harlem, by providing legal services, education, and advocacy.

Despite New York’s expanded access to health care for low-income and immigrants and their families, these communities nonetheless maintain huge disparities in health outcomes, life expectancy, and well-being compared to other New Yorkers. For instance, a quarter of the East Harlem population lacks health insurance, resulting in poor neighborhood health outcomes. Health insurance is complex and the intersection of insurance and immigration status even more so. Many immigrants also face substantial cultural and language barriers. Patient and provider misunderstandings about consumer rights, as well as a dearth of legal representation enforcing such rights, contribute to medical debt and bankruptcies.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship period, Katherine:

  • Provided health-related legal services to 159 clients and provided advice and advocacy services around health insurance, medical billing, and other health care legal issues
  • Represented 7 clients in Medicaid administrative hearings
  • Gave 11 presentations and trainings to clients and to service providers, reaching 583 individuals
  • Established a pro bono partnership with Pfizer and recruited and trained 10 pro bono attorneys to draft Standby Guardianship Designation forms for clients at 2 Standby Guardianship pro bono clinics

Next Steps

Katherine is now a staff attorney at Health Law Advocates developing a new medical-legal partnership for immigrants. The services provided focus on the complex intersection of Medicaid eligibility and immigration status. She also supervises an Equal Justice Works Fellow who is working on the partnership.

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Hillary Schneller

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Melanie Cuevas

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Sponsor: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP