December 2001

Program Creates Ethics Associates for Market-based Organizations

The Catholic Health Initiatives Ethics Associate Program has prepared nearly 40 market-based leaders to serve as ethics consultants within their organizations. "The program is providing local resources for basic issues of ethics in Catholic health care, such as beginning-of-life and end-of-life issues," said Carl Middleton, DMin, ND, vice president of theology and ethics for Catholic Health Initiatives. "We would like to have at least one and preferably two people in each market-based organization who are prepared to respond to questions and provide consultation about ethics." Led by Middleton and Tom Hooyman, vice president for theology and ethics, the Ethics Associate Program is a year-long training program that consists of four elements:
  • A two-day opening retreat.
  • Monthly conference calls that expand on the issues examined in the opening retreat.
  • A project chosen and designed by each ethics associate, that applies their learning to an ethical challenge experienced within a market-based organization or national office.
  • A two-day closing retreat.
Middleton and Hooyman emphasize that the program tries to form a learning community that builds on the strengths of adult learners and provides a forum in which they can learn from each other. Evaluations from individuals who have completed the program are overwhelmingly positive. "I found the program helpful for the educational opportunities offered, especially from Carl Middleton and Tom Hooyman," said Ted Lewis, MD, director of medical education for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, Colo., who is chair of the organization’s bioethics committee. "It provided a forum to interact with ethics leaders from other Catholic Health Initiatives facilities and gain new insights and ideas." Evelyn Fugazzi, SCN, staff chaplain at Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown, Ky., said the program provided the expertise she needed to serve as co-chair of Flaget’s ethics committee. "The monthly audio conferences were excellent, and the ongoing mentorship – not only of the two leaders, but also of colleagues from the program – continues to be a wonderful source of support and continual development," she said. Hooyman said the program is designed to build an infrastructure of ethics competency within Catholic Health Initiatives. "There are two ways to do that: by developing resource tools such as the Catholic Health Initiatives’ ethical decision-making process or by developing people," he said. "This program focuses on people. Our plan is to continue the growth and development of our ethics associates through annual conferences, periodic audio or video conferences and ongoing networking within the group." Program participants include a variety of market-based leaders who are responsible for local ethics consulting, including nurses, physicians and administrators. One market-based organization sent its entire senior management team through the program. "We have had an excellent cross-section of trainees," said Middleton. "They are forming a learning community for ethics." Hooyman noted that other Catholic health systems are interested in the Ethics Associate Program. "We are talking with other systems about how they could implement our program and how we can collaborate with them on ethics education," he said. A new session of the Ethics Associate Program is set to begin January 29 at the Cliffview Retreat Center near Lexington, Ky. For more information, contact Carl Middleton at or Tom Hooyman at