Impending Loss of Important Alberta Health Ethics Resource

EDMONTON, March 4 /CNW/ - The Provincial Health Ethics Network (PHEN), a world-renowned Alberta organization, is facing a loss of all operational funding. In the absence of a significant change in funding status, PHEN will be ceasing the majority of its operations as of March 31, 2010.

Over its 14-year history, PHEN has produced high-quality health ethics resources and support for Alberta health care providers, policy-makers, ethics committees and the public. It is regarded as a leader in the field and a model for similar organizations developed across Canada.

"Despite its small staff and budget," says PHEN's Board Chair Joan Cody, "PHEN has established an international reputation as a go-to resource for addressing ethical issues that arise in health care. PHEN provides health ethics education, consultation and committee support throughout the province. It also develops accessible yet comprehensive resources for health care providers and the public, addressing a range of difficult questions from how to allocate resources to how to think about end-of-life issues. Many health care facilities in Alberta rely on PHEN for these resources and services."

Alberta Health & Wellness was PHEN's primary funder since 1996 until it ceased its financial support in March 2009, citing fiscal limitations and a greater focus on governance over implementation. Alberta Health Services (AHS) generously stepped in to keep PHEN operational over the past fiscal year. However, due to its own budget constraints and a desire to build internal ethics capacity, AHS will no longer be continuing this level of funding after March 31, 2010.

PHEN was created in 1995 in response to needs identified by Albertans and articulated in the Alberta government's Rainbow Report: Our Vision For Health. It is mandated to provide to all Albertans easily accessible, high-quality health ethics education and support for ethical decision-making. Since its inception, PHEN has played an instrumental role in developing capacity within the health system to address a wide range of ethical issues emerging in the complex world of modern health care. PHEN is an independent, non-profit organization that does not advocate for or take positions on particular ethical issues; its role is to facilitate thoughtful, informed and reasoned ethical decision-making from all perspectives.

SOURCE PROVINCIAL HEALTH ETHICS NETWORK

For further information: For further information: Al-Noor Nenshi Nathoo, Executive Director, PHEN, Phone: (403) 508-0070, E-mail: nathoo@phen.ab.ca; Joan Cody, Board Chair, PHEN, Phone: (780) 675-2291, Email: jcody@extendicare.com

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PROVINCIAL HEALTH ETHICS NETWORK

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