2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Krista Selnau

Krista Selnau

Name of Host Organization: Legal Aid of Arkansas
City, State: Little Rock, Arkansas
Issue area: Health Care/Medical-Legal Partnership
Sponsors: Walmart; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP

The Project

Krista is providing legal advocacy and outreach to low-income disabled children and their families at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) Hematology-Oncology clinic through a medical-legal partnership (MLP).

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
MLP is a critical component of family-centered care. Since legal detriments of health are among the most serious and solvable social barriers to patient health and well-being, and because it is unrealistic to supply an affordable lawyer for every patient, MLPs promote legal problem solving for the most vulnerable patients, including low-income children and their families, as a component of health care. The ACH Hematology-Oncology clinic is the primary clinic in Arkansas treating blood disorders and the only clinic in the state treating childhood cancer. With a continuing stream of patients, it is impossible for medical providers to identify and address every unmet legal need without a targeted screening system in place. Addressing these needs is significant to improving health.
Highlights to Date: 
In the first year, Krista has:
• Implemented weekly legal office hours for intakes, medical staff consults, brief advice, and brief services for patients and families at the ACH Hematology-Oncology clinic
• Provided legal assistance to more than 50 patients and their families
• Given community presentations that reached more than 200 moderate- to low-income families
• Trained social workers and medical staff on legal issues affecting patients and families, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other public benefits, special education, guardianships, powers of attorney, and employment rights
• Organized a wills clinic for families of children with cancer, in which Walmart and Akin Gump attorneys participated
What's Next: 
In the next year, Krista plans to:
• Launch a pediatric cancer survivorship MLP clinic and pilot study at the ACH Hematology-Oncology clinic
• Launch an MLP clinic and pilot study to serve pediatric sickle cell patients transitioning to the adult sickle cell clinic setting
• Hold legal clinics in the community for moderate- to low-income families affected by cancer, sickle cell, and other blood disorders
• Develop accessible legal advocacy tools and materials for patients and families at the ACH Hematology-Oncology clinic, including a legal advice application for mobile devices
• Represent five clients in SSI and guardianship hearings

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