Bioethics News

Getting Over the Hurdles

By Peter Young


D. Watkins, local author and columnist, spoke to a crowd of physicians, nurses, social workers, and policy-makers at Johns Hopkins Hospital last week. He shared his experiences growing up in Baltimore, specifically how neighborhood kids used to joke by saying if you went to Bayview Medical Center, you would never come back alive. If you got shot in the pinky or stung by a bee and went to Bayview, you would probably die. The anecdote received some nervous laughter from the crowd. Watkins was referring to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Campus in East Baltimore, and its troubled relationship with the surrounding, impoverished, urban community. Johns Hopkins Hospital has had a varied history with Baltimoreans including ethically complex stories such as that of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital and who unknowingly participated in medical research without giving informed consent.


The occasion for Watkins remarks was the inaugural conference, Partnering with Patients in Decision-Making: Continuing the Conversation at Johns Hopkins. This one-day conference last Wednesday featured four panel discussions and two keynote speakers, D. Watkins and Dr. Larry Allen, with presentations intended to boost understanding of the best ways to involve patients in their own medical decision-making. The goals of the conference were to conceptually explore decision-making and its relationship to the broader issues of racial, socioeconomic, and healthcare disparities; to understand barriers to shared decision-making; and to describe innovative ways to promote shared decision-making.


Watkins, who gave the introductory speech in the morning, continued to explain that while many see Hopkins as a world-renowned institution, this is not how the urban community sees Hopkins.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.