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Ethics Conference Tackles Role of Government in Health Care
When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a ban on super-sized sodas sales, his decision created a media uproar. Advocates of individual liberty invoked fears of a “nanny state” where government officials would invade personal freedoms. Bloomberg’s defenders pointed to the epidemic of obesity and the long tradition of governmental responsibility for public health. Add into this mix the impact of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and you have the ingredients for this year’s Peninsula Regional Medical Center Patient Care Advisory Committee’s eighth annual ethics conference. The conference topic is “Health Care Reform: Nanny State or Responsible Stewardship?” and will be held on Thursday, April 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Hallowell Conference Center at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. Conference support also comes from the Salisbury Medical Science Foundation and Salisbury University’s Henson School of Science and Technology and Fulton School of Liberal Arts. The main speaker for this year’s conference is Dr. James Childress, Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics at the University of Virginia and co-author of the groundbreaking book “Principles of Biomedical Ethics,” just out in its 7th Edition. “There is no more renowned and respected figure in the whole field of medical ethics,” noted Wicomico County Deputy Health Officer and planning committee member Dr. James Cockey. “We are truly fortunate to have him.” Also speaking is Dr. Karen Matsuoka of Maryland’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, a graduate of Oxford University who has vast experience in health care implementation, from federal legislation to evidence-based practice. “She should be a nice complement to Dr. Childress in helping us sort through these issues as they impact Maryland and the Eastern Shore,” added Dr. Cockey. The conference will be of interest to professionals, patients, and anyone interested in the impact of the new health care law on the dual values of individual liberty and the public good. It poses the urgent questions: How might health care professionals play their role as stewards without becoming government nannies? How can all the players work together to create a healthier citizenry? The cost to attend the conference is $50 for physicians, healthcare professionals and the general public, $40 for PRMC and Salisbury University employees and $20 for full-time students and chaplains/clergy. A dinner will be provided. Registration is required by Thursday, March 28. For information or to register, visit peninsula.org/eticsconference, or call Debora Musser of the Peninsula Regional Medical Center Pastoral Care office at 410-543-7157.