BIOETHICS CONFERENCE — A question-and-answer panel discussion concluded the fifth annual W.F. Mitchell Bioethics Conference held Nov. 18-19 in Saskatoon. From left to right: Profs. Walter Glannon and Michael Coughlin, and Drs. Keith Ogle and Barbara Russell. (Yaworski photo)
conference held in Saskatoon
Ethical issues involved in caring for those suffering from dementia, mental
illness or addiction were addressed in a two-day bioethics conference
Nov. 18 and 19 in Saskatoon.
Held at Saskatoon
City Hospital, the fifth annual W. F. Mitchell Bioethics Conference was
co-ordinated by St. Paul’s Hospital, with support from the St. Paul’s
Hospital Foundation and the Saskatoon Health Region.
An endowment bequeathed
to St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation by the late William F. Mitchell
helps to fund the event, said conference organizer Joy Mendel, ethicist
for St. Paul’s Hospital and the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan
speakers and leaders of break-out sessions explored a wide range of issues,
including decision-making capacity for medical treatments, the issue of
sexuality in patients with dementia in long-term care settings, and the
spiritual care perspective in caring for people with dementia, an addiction
or a mental illness.
Dr. Barbara Russell,
bioethicist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto,
gave the opening address about ethical considerations in addictions treatment
Coughlin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster
University in Hamilton, Ont., spoke about ethical issues around dementia
and sexual intimacy.
Prof. Walter Glannon
of the department of philosophy, University of Calgary, addressed ethical
issues around the care of those suffering from mental illness, including
the issue of competence to consent.
included insights on maintaining and respecting boundaries between caregiver
and patient, balancing the needs of those in long-term care with an institution’s
resources, informed consent and walking with families as they deal with
issues of dementia and mental illness. In several sessions, conference
delegates explored hypothetical case studies to wrestle with ethical dilemmas.
Other sessions offered personal testimonies and insights into the experience
of living with dementia, an addiction or a mental illness.
In one concurrent
session, pastors Ed and Diane Cooper spoke on their experience providing
spiritual care to people living with fetal alcohol syndrome. In another,
Marlessa Wesolowki, artist in residence at St. Paul’s Hospital,
presented a short film entitled Release, in which a prisoner spoke about
mental illness, addiction and art.
The conference ended with a question-and-answer panel discussion moderated by Jean Morrison, chief executive officer of St. Paul’s Hospital and head of the Ethics Managed Care Group for the Saskatoon Health Region. The panel included the three keynote speakers: Russell, Coughlin, and Gannon, as well as Dr. Keith Ogle.