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The Philadelphia story.

The Philadelphia Story

The Delaware Valley Ethics Committee Network (DVECN) recently celebrated its first anniversary. The organization is a cooperative venture among regional institutional ethics committees. The Hastings Center, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia that aims to provide a resource group for burgeoning ethics committees in the Philadelphia area. With the assistance of funding from the William Penn Foundation, it has identified a constituency of approximately 260 members from ninety institutions. The major activities of the DVECN have focused on organizing regional conferences, developing educational materials, and identifying resource faculty.

Despite tremendous interest and support from members, survival of the DVECN depends on answers to three important questions. First, is current grassroots support sufficient to maintain the group after external funding terminates in two more years? The part-time role played by coordinators of the Network may significantly affect the time and energy that they can devote to the DVECN in the future. A Mother Theresa would be most welcome.

Second, can such a group have an impact on practices and policies at institutions? Of course, this is the hope and belief of the Network, but those who determine the moral climate at any institution include more than members with a special interest in medical ethics. Third, given the growing numbers of newsletters, video productions, and journal materials about ethics around the country, will the DVECN become redundant? I believe that a human resource group such as the DVECN is superior to plastic and paper resources, though humans usually are more expensive and less predictable.

The Network's experience during its first year indicates that there is great need for such a group. The challenge is to capitalize on the current generous support of The Hastings Center, the College of Physicians, and the William Penn Foundation to create a lasting network to address the many pressing ethical dilemmas that out members and health care institution face.

David Gary Smith, a coordinator of the Delaware Valley Ethics Committee Network, is assistant professor of medicine at Temple University.
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Title Annotation:Delaware Valley Ethics Committee Network
Author:Smith, David Gary
Publication:The Hastings Center Report
Date:Aug 1, 1988
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