Mental Hygiene Legal Service to Represent New York Nursing Home Residents

January 2, 2020


The New York State Legislature has expanded the authority of Mental Hygiene Legal Service (“MHLS”) to provide legal assistance to certain residents of residential healthcare facilities.

Purpose of the law?

  • To afford seriously mentally ill nursing home residents with the same protections and legal advocacy services that they would be afforded had they remained in a psychiatric facility.

Residents entitled to representation by MHLS?

  • Residents admitted directly from a psychiatric unit of a general hospital or other psychiatric facility who have a serious mental illness for which they are receiving services related to such illness.

Who is MHLS?

  • Mental Hygiene Legal Service is a State agency that provides legal services and assistance to patients or residents of facilities licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health or Office for Persons With Developmental Disabilities. This law expands MHLS’s authority to qualified residents of nursing homes as described above.

What are the functions, powers and duties of MHLS?

  • MHLS has broad legal authority to provide advocacy services to qualified residents and their families concerning residents’ rights, admission, care and treatment, and discharge.
  • MHLS is authorized to be granted access at all times to the facility where a qualified resident is residing,
  • MHLS may demand access to information, books and records deemed necessary by MHLS for carrying out its functions, powers and duties.

When is the new law effective?

  • Immediately.

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If you have any questions about this alert, please contact the Garfunkel Wild attorney with whom you regularly work.