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A Project for Our Time

September 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been by turns dramatic and disconcerting, and, at times, draconian. I read about Steve Reiter’s deplorable experience and his new project in a BreakPoint commentary in July, and he was kind enough to speak with me by telephone on 24 July.

Steve’s beloved wife, Elizabeth, had diagnoses of lupus and pulmonary hypertension, among other difficulties. She had had a lengthy hospitalization in 2014, but had recovered. Steve attributes her recovery to excellent medical care and the 24/7 presence of her family. She had a Hickman line placed, and Steve ...read more

Welcome to our Distinguished Fellow!

September 16, 2020 • Posted in Blog
The Board of Directors and Dr. D. Joy Riley, Executive Director of the Tennessee Center for Bioethics and Culture, are pleased to announce that C. Ben Mitchell, PhD, has been appointed Distinguished Fellow of the Center effective September 1, 2020.

  Dr. Mitchell most recently served as the Graves professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, until his retirement at the end of August 2020. Prior to joining the Union faculty, he taught bioethics and contemporary culture for a decade at Trinity Graduate School in Deerfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where he was also director of the Center for Bioethics & Human ...read more

Flourishing in Difficult Times

July 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

Zen Nails, in Brentwood, TN, recently reopened for business.  The nail salon had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.  But it had not been idle. The owners, along with other volunteers, decided to contribute to the common good in a very needed way.  They sewed masks and donated them to medical workers as well as to the Navajo nation.

Read the story here.

Focusing on “Culture”

July 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture exists to promote human dignity in the face of 21st Century bioethics challenges. Our theme for 2020 is Human Flourishing. Living in the surreal time of a pandemic with all the increased complexity of our lives, flourishing can almost seem too high an ideal. Artist Carol Harkness penned the following essay (lightly edited) about the important building blocks of culture—integrally related to flourishing—and that not only for our day.

We are still busy with bioethics as well. Here are a few recent articles you may want to check out:

“Dying ...read more

When Breath Is (Not Enough) Air: Let’s Talk about Ventilators

June 11, 2020 • Posted in Blog

There has been much public discussion about ventilators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It is humbling to consider that we, or someone we love, might require one. Most people know something about the benefit of a ventilator when needed; but how well do we really understand the functions and risks of mechanical ventilation? The pandemic presents an opportune time to learn about this. So I posed a series of questions about these machines and the processes involved in using them to a physician, who is a specialist in using ventilators to treat very ill patients. Those questions, and her answers, follow.  

1) ...read more

When the Foundations Are Wobbling, Part II

May 22, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

Death Certificates and COVID-19

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

One of the tasks assigned to physicians is the completion of death certificates—at least, the portion of death certificates that list cause of death (COD). I learned the importance of accuracy of death certificate completion as a pathology student fellow, an extra year of pathology training in the middle of my medical school career. We were instructed never to use the mechanism of death, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest, as a cause of death. Additionally, the use of terms like “probable” or “suspected” were not allowed. After all, the goal of ...read more

When the Foundations Are Wobbling, Part I

April 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

The Denominator of Death Rates

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

How many people in the U.S. have died of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or COVID-19? That is difficult to say, and not for lack of numbers on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The case fatality rate for a particular disease is, basically, the number of persons dying of a disease, divided by the number of persons who have the disease, and multiplied by 100, to give an answer in terms of percentage:

# persons dying of COVID-19 disease X 100 # persons infected with SARS-CoV-2

How is this complicated? ...read more

Flourishing in the Midst of Crisis

March 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

Focus on the “Local”

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

It may seem ironic in this time of coronavirus* epidemic that The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture’s theme for 2020 is Human Flourishing. Of course, the theme was chosen before the populace was on such intimate terms with the infection. The theme was also chosen before tornadoes** struck Middle Tennessee; before we knew we would need a hefty dose of encouragement in 2020. In this month’s post, several Tennesseans are featured. From a pharmacist in western Tennessee to a group of studio singers in Music City, these can help us to ...read more

Flourishing . . . In a Time of Debate

February 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

Ben Voth, Ph.D., associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs at Southern Methodist University, is also director of debate at SMU. His book, James Farmer, Jr.: The Great Debater (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017) provides exemplars of debate from the previous century – ones from whom we could learn much today. Voth’s book is not a biography of James Farmer, Jr., but a dissection of how Farmer, reared by his capable parents (his father was both a minister and a professor) and trained by Melvin Tolson at Wiley College, used rhetoric properly fitted to action to change the world. ...read more

COVID-19 in Wuhan: Plea for Help Retracted

February 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

One thing is clear: COVID-19, the newest coronavirus to infect humans, has our attention. Locally, people planning to travel—almost anywhere—are wondering about where to obtain face masks. As of Tuesday of this week, reports the New York Times, the United States had 57 cases, with 40 of those related to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan. The NYT article further reported,

  “We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told a Senate panel on Tuesday. “And we need to ...read more