Ethicist to discuss the importance of personal and pastoral care during a time of isolation

GREENVILLE, Pa.—The Community Medical Ethics Project hosted Rev. Dan E. Hall, M.D. to discuss the importance of personal and pastoral contact during a time of isolation and quarantine as well as other topics of medical ethics on Oct. 22 during an online conference.

Hall also focused on how technical success and efficiency in medicine have negatively impacted the “proper” goal of medicine which encourages “human flourishing,” an idea arguably supported by the medical handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hall’s presentation, “Pastoral Care, Public Health and Priorities: Human Flourishing in a Broken but Healing World,” is available online.

Hall described how substituting “maximal” safety” or “mere life” have replaced a more complete account of human flourishing. He looked at the blanket prohibition of any visitation during the pandemic and the recognition of pastoral care as essential and the encouragement of support persons at the bedside COVID positive patients. He also shared findings from his efforts aimed at identifying the highest risk patients before surgery as an opportunity to clarify goals of care and align treatment plans with patients’ values so that patients might flourish even as their lives draw to a close.

Hall holds an undergraduate degree from Yale University as well as a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Yale School of Medicine, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Master of Health Science from Duke University. He completed his general surgery residency through the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he is employed as an Associate Professor of Surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and serves as Staff Surgeon for the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Health System. He is a Core Investigator for the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, and a Core Faculty member for the Center for Bioethics and Health Law at the University of Pittsburgh.

Having contributed extensively to numerous medical and academic publications, Hall has written on many subjects from pediatric palliative medicine to identifying patient frailty. His particular interests include frailty in elective surgery, studying the effectiveness of the institutional review board procedures, and how theology may be appropriately applied to the practice of medicine.

Hall was honored in 2016 as the Stakeholder Representative for the American College of Surgeons Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery Project, and he was the Keynote Speaker for the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s Student Clinician Pinning Ceremony in 2013. He also served in 2012 as part of the Surgical Ethics Working Group for SCORE and was awarded the Doris B. Maxwell Award for Research in 2007.

The Community Medical Ethics Project is a collaboration between Buhl Regional Health Foundation, UPMC Horizon, Thiel College, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community. Its mission is to help people in the community better understand medical ethics issues so they can make better decisions involving their healthcare.

For more information, contact the Community Medical Ethics Project.

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