As the new Director of NCEHP, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my past association with NCEHP. As you may recall, I am not new to this position. Last year when our Director, Noel Tiano, was on sabbatical I stepped in as Interim Director. That experience helped prepare me for my role this year, so I have to thank Noel for the dress rehearsal!
As last year’s Interim Director, I, and my very talented staff, presented the Nevada Health Care Ethics Summit, bringing together 40 leaders of the health care community to examine the current state of health care ethics in Nevada. This meeting was precipitated by the hepatitis C outbreak, but looked much more broadly at ethical lapses, whistle-blowing and ethics education. The Ethics Summit spawned two initiatives: health care consortia for Southern and Northern Nevada and a Nevada Health Care Ethics website.
The two consortia, are composed of ethics committee members from hospitals in the north and south. It is hoped these consortia will meet at regular intervals to improve ethics committee competencies, explore common policy issues and review challenging cases to promote a higher level of care in Nevada. The Southern Nevada consortium met in February and the Northern Nevada consortium has its first meeting planned for this September.
The Health Care Ethics website is still in production. However, we have already established contacts to feed ethics events to our calendar, identified ethics educational sites, and secured a blog master. We won a competitive selection for a free website design for this project and anticipate its launch in early 2010.
We have also continued research that informs both our communities and legislature. Our three most recent projects explored moral conscience objections of Nevada pharmacists in filling prescriptions, Nevadan’s health care preferences and completion rates of advance directives (which have increased by almost 10% in 2 years, which we like to think is related to our efforts!).
This brings me to my greatest challenge as I take up my position as Director. Our Center has lost its state funding and we have lost all but 3 employees. That’s the bad news. The good news is the employees we’ve retained are remarkable in their dedication, diligence and “can-do” attitudes! In fact, in addition to the Summit and its initiatives, and inclusive of last year’s shrinking budget we focused more resources on our education mission and in last year’s enrollment period our minor and certificate programs quadrupled!
In addition, our Center has continued its support and promotion of the Secretary of State’s LivingWillLockbox.com, the online repository for advance directives. Our Center has worked tirelessly to promote the site, along with our complementary NVLivingWill.com site. Our efforts have been successful; in its first year of operation, LivingWillLockbox.com has surpassed other similar state registries in first-year registrations.
The elimination of state funding is nevertheless worrisome. With the economy as it is, with more organizations seeking grants and granting agencies with fewer dollars to distribute, our efforts are challenged. We, however, will continue to seek grant and research opportunities in hopes of our continued service to Nevada.
Too many in Nevada share our challenges in these times. We invite you to join together with us to promote high ethical standards in all aspects of our society, Such efforts will lead us to sustained prosperity, caring supportive health care and community success.
Our best to you,
Sally P Hardwick, MS