Kassandra Gonzalez

  • Hosted by Texas Legal Services Center
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Austin, Texas
  • Law school The University of Texas School of Law
  • Issue area Health Care, Medical-Legal Partnership
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Kassandra expanded Texas Legal Services Center’s Medical-Legal Partnerships to a school-linked health center and integrated legal interventions to address the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on at-risk youth.

Kassandra’s Fellowship sought to mitigate the long-term negative health effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for patients at People’s Community Clinic’s school-linked health center in Manor, Texas. Remediating ACEs for youth is important for Manor, a town whose population has doubled in the last 10 years yet has a below-average median income. There are no legal aid offices in Manor, and there are no attorneys dedicated to meeting the health-harming and education-undermining legal needs of Manor’s youth. Kassandra focused on helping the clinic’s pediatric and adolescent patients meet their financial, educational, and personal needs, particularly in light of the evolving pandemic. Kassandra worked with clinicians to integrate these needs into the delivery of healthcare.

Kassandra first discovered the correlation between health and poverty during her undergraduate study of humanities, medical law, and ethics when she was confronted with bleak statistics: people living in poverty have increased health risks and are more likely to die at an early age. She became determined to volunteer and address these issues.

Fellowship Highlights

During her two-year Fellowship, Kassandra:

  • Provided full representation, advice, and/or warm referrals to over 250 patient-clients on matters including disability and other benefits, guardianship, supported decision-making agreements, and education
  • Conducted trainings with the pediatric and adolescent department of People’s Community Clinic and at the It’s Time Texas virtual conference, educating clinicians and other participants on topics including MLP services for at-risk youth, consent, and confidentiality issues for minors, bullying in the virtual education context, and pandemic-related legal updates
  • Assisted TLSC’s MLP and Impact Litigation departments to draft an emergency rulemaking petition to the Public Utilities Commission of Texas, which resulted in a moratorium on utility shut-offs in the state during the pandemic with the PUCT estimating that the $30 million utility-relief program protected some 600,000 households from disconnection for non-payment
  • Led a collaboration with Texas Law to draft a healthcare-informed amicus brief on the federal Medicaid work requirements case before the Supreme Court

Next Steps

Kassandra will join Texas Civil Rights Project as a Manne Family Fellow in their Racial and Economic Justice practice group, where she will continue advocating for underrepresented communities. TLSC will sustain Kassandra’s project by creating a permanent MLP pediatrics attorney position.

Media

Texas Medicine September 2020

How Medical-Legal Partnerships Help Patients

Supreme Court Clinic Teams Up with Public-Interest Alumni to Advocate for Healthcare Access

Legal Counsel: A Health Care Partner For Immigrant Communities

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