Newswise — Washington, DC and Bentonville, AR (January 16, 2014) – Six children's hospitals and seven legal organizations are meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas today to kick off Better Team for Child Health. This children's hospital learning network will study the impact of legal care on child health and develop recommendations on how to better build an interprofessional healthcare team that responds to the complex social and health-harming legal needs of children. It’s being convened by the Advisory Board Company, the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and Walmart.

"Good health requires a lot more than good medicine," said Ellen Lawton, co-principal investigator of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. "We know children need safe housing, access to health insurance and enough of the right foods in order to be healthy. But what is less commonly understood is that the complex nature of these problems often requires healthcare and legal professionals working together to advocate for patients and change the policies that impact health."

Over the last 10 years, the participating hospitals and legal organizations have individually pioneered innovative medical- legal partnerships that integrate legal care into patient healthcare services. They have seen preliminary improvements in patient health and adherence to medical treatments as well as cost savings for the hospitals. “The initial research shows that children’s hospitals that make lawyers part of the healthcare team – to train other team members to identify and screen for problems and to advocate for patients – improved housing conditions and prevented homelessness, obtained health insurance and recovered money in previously denied benefits for patients,” said Brian Contos, executive director within the Advisory Board Company’s Research & Insights division.

The learning network will further study the impact of legal care on patient health and develop recommendations that will help every children’s hospital in the U.S. understand the connection between legal needs and child health and build smarter interprofessional partnerships that improve the quality of children’s healthcare. Walmart, who has supported medical-legal partnership in Arkansas since 2010, is engaging other corporate pro bono organizations to participate in the learning network and support partnerships in their communities.

Better Team for Child Health Learning Network Participants:

Arkansas Children's HospitalBoston Children's HospitalChildren's Healthcare of AtlantaChildren's National Healthcare System (Washington, DC)Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical CenterTexas Children's Hospital Atlanta Legal Aid SocietyChildren's Law Center (Washington, DC)Georgia State University College of LawHouston Volunteer LawyersLegal Aid of ArkansasLegal Aid Society of Greater CincinnatiMedical-Legal Partnership | Boston


About the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership:

NCMLP works to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable people by transforming the healthcare team to identify, treat and prevent health-harming, unmet legal needs. It is a project of the Health Policy Department at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

About the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services:

Established in July 1997, the School of Public Health and Health Services brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education and is now the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,100 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 40 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school now offers an online Master of Public Health, [email protected], which allows students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

About the Advisory Board Company:The Advisory Board Company is a global technology, research, and consulting firm that is uses its healthcare expertise working with over 3,600 hospitals and healthcare organizations help healthcare get better.