$1 Million Burford Leimenstoll Gift to Endow U.Va. Child Health Advocacy Program

December 20, 2006
Dec. 20, 2006 -- Imagine being the mother of a premature newborn and not being able to pay your electric bill. Or imagine being in the midst of a custody battle while your toddler is fighting brain cancer. Added expenses and legal problems in times of medical emergencies can leave families stretched to the limits of their abilities to cope. Thanks to a $1 million gift from the Richmond-based Burford Leimenstoll Foundation, the University of Virginia Child Health Advocacy Program will be able to provide critical assistance — in the form of legal aid, emergency funds, and resource referral — for families whose children are treated at University of Virginia Children’s Hospital.
The Child Health Advocacy Program is a collaborative effort between University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, the U.Va.School of Law and the Legal Aid Justice Center. Through the program, caregivers at U.Va. Children’s Hospital refer families to staff and law students from legal aid for assistance with non-medical needs such as landlord issues, benefit issues, child support issues and others identified during the course of their medical care. The program also assists with emergency funds to help families through crises and with referrals to appropriate community service agencies. As part of the program, U.Va. Children’s Hospital physicians, social workers, nurses and other health care providers are trained to identify difficult non-medical issues during check-ups and hospital admissions. Last year the program served approximately 200 families across Virginia.
The gift from the Burford Leimenstoll Foundation honors the late Betty Sams Christian, a longtime supporter of U.Va. Children’s Hospital. According to W. Bates Chappell, of Kanawha Capital Management and co-director of the Burford Leimenstoll Foundation with Ben R. Lacy IV of Sands Anderson Marks & Miller PC, the Child Health Advocacy Program is a good fit with Mrs. Christian’s interests.
“She was very interested in helping those with limited or modest means,” said Chappell.  “She believed in giving everyone a chance to get ahead and broaden their prospects. This program is well attuned to the ideals she stood for.”
“We are extremely grateful to the Burford Leimenstoll Foundation for recognizing this often-overlooked need,” said Nancy McDaniel, M.D., vice chair of pediatrics and medical director, U.Va. Children’s Hospital. “The assistance provided by the Child Health Advocacy Program fills a critical gap by allowing families in need to focus on the health and well-being of their children, without feeling like they are facing a constant barrage of legal and financial woes.”
According to Diane Pappas, M.D., J.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics and co-director of the Child Health Advocacy Program, the Burford Leimenstoll gift will allow U.Va. to further develop and expand the program, incorporating legal advocates as regular members of the health care team to better address in a coordinated and comprehensive manner the legal needs that, if neglected, can negatively impact a child’s health.
“As the program develops,” adds Pappas, “we will be able to provide ‘preventative’ care, both legally and medically, anticipating issues and addressing needs before family legal crises and the resultant negative health outcomes can develop. Ultimately, we will develop a statewide network of child health advocacy programs so that we can extend the benefits of this program to children throughout the Commonwealth.”
The Burford Leimenstoll Foundation was established in 1991 by Betty Sams Christian to support local and national charities. Christian was former chair and CEO of Central Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Inc., now part of Coca-Cola Enterprises. Named in honor of Christian’s grandmothers, the foundation continues her philanthropic tradition by supporting a variety of mostly regional charities, including the Virginia Home for Boys, VCU Massey Cancer Center, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Collegiate School, Boy Scouts of America, and the Virginia College Fund.