SAN JOSE, Calif., October 28, 2008 - Cigna Foundation, in partnership with Equal Justice Works and Jenner & Block, LLP, has named Jessa Barnard as its 2008 Fellow. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Barnard will work with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley to begin a Diabetes Law Collaborative.
The Collaborative will provide legal assistance to patients living with diabetes to ease problems hindering their diabetes management. This legal support may include help in obtaining government-sponsored medical insurance, reasonable accommodations in employment, access to disability benefits, and housing. The goal of the medical-legal partnership is to help patients better comply with their medical treatment and improve their health.
Equal Justice Works Fellowships is the largest postgraduate legal fellowship program in the nation. Every year, hundreds of law school graduates apply to Equal Justice Works and design their “dream job” with a nonprofit organization that has agreed to host the applicant if awarded a fellowship. Sponsors then review project proposals and select candidates who meet general criteria or otherwise complement their philanthropic and pro bono interests.
“We are pleased to support the important work of Jessa Barnard in the community. Our support of Equal Justice Works Fellowships exemplifies Cigna's commitment to improving the health of those we serve and enhancing the well-being of their communities,” said Gianna Jackson, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. “With legal help, diabetes patients can better manage their disease, reduce the risk of complications from diabetes, and lower the need for costly emergency room visits and hospitalization,” Jackson said.
Prior to attending law school, Barnard was a policy specialist with the Vermont Medical Society. While attending Stanford, Barnard worked at the Community Law Clinic in East Palo Alto and spent summers as a law clerk at Bay Area Legal Aid’s Santa Clara office and Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley. She received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.
Adults with diabetes face a complex health care regimen, and many also face social, financial and legal challenges that result in barriers to managing their chronic disease. For example, patients with diabetes often fear losing a job due to the need for regular blood glucose monitoring, insulin injections, frequent breaks, and sick leave to take care of medical appointments. In addition, patients often do not understand when they might be eligible for government-sponsored medical or disability benefits. Patients’ financial problems can increase domestic violence and problems in maintaining housing.
Through the Collaborative, medical staff will refer patients for legal consultation with the Law Foundation attorney. With proper releases of information signed by patients, the attorney and medical staff will work together to assist patients in overcoming barriers to their diabetes management. The attorney will develop legal training and referral guides for medical providers, prepare legal self-help materials for patients, and join diabetes education efforts, as appropriate.
Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.
Cigna (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and security. Cigna Corporation's operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 47 million people throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more about Cigna, visit www.cigna.com.
Equal Justice Works, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c) (3) organization, was founded in 1986 by law students dedicated to working for equal justice on behalf of underserved communities and causes. Today, Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating summer and postgraduate public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers as well as in urging more public interest programming at law schools. For more information, visit www.equaljusticeworks.org.