Institute of Clinical Bioethics Extends Consultancy to Bethlehem's Caritas Hospital

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (August 2, 2016) — SJU’s Institute of Clinical Bioethics (ICB) recently announced that it has agreed to serve as medical bioethics consultants for the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem, Palestine. Founded in 1952 by Swiss priest Father Ernst Schnydrig and now sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Padua, Italy, the charity hospital provides care for almost 40,000 children on the West Bank and in Gaza, many of whom are refugees. This consultancy marks the ICB’s first international bioethics client.

“The ICB is honored to engage in a consultancy with this vitally important hospital in Bethlehem,” says Institute director Peter Clark, S.J., professor of theology and health services. “Our affiliation with Caritas enlivens Saint Joseph’s Jesuit mission and gives us the opportunity to respond to Pope Francis’ call to reach out to refugees.”

Caritas staff members proposed the relationship to Father Clark after he delivered bioethics Grand Rounds in Bethlehem during a recent trip to the Holy Land. The agreement provides that the ICB will help formulate and initiate ethics policies and deliver lectures to the staff and medical residents; interact with staff as ethics committee members; and provide ethics consults, all via Skype.

Fr. Clark adds that linking with Caritas has opened new avenues of research for SJU undergraduate and graduate students. “We’ve already started a research project involving two ICB undergraduate fellows and two Caritas medical residents who are looking at methylmalonic acidemia (MMA), a genetic anomaly particular to Palestine that is marked by an individual’s inability to break down specific fats and proteins,” he says.

The affiliation has also created an opportunity for SJU pre-medical students to develop a deeper understanding of both Jewish and Muslim perspectives on bioethics. “This experience will enable our students who become practicing physicans to communicate more effectively with patients who follow these faith traditions,” says Fr. Clark.

In addition to Caritas, the ICB currently maintains medical bioethics consultancies with Shriner’s Hospital and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children (Philadelphia); Mercy Health System of Pennsylvania; Mercy Medical Center (Baltimore); and Catholic Charities of Maryland.

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