The health care environment continues to grow in complexity. Among the multiple factors that serve as a breeding ground from ethical dilemmas are: innovations in medical treatment, electronic exchange of health information, a patient population that is increasingly diverse, unreimbursed care due to gaps in coverage, and heightened pressure to rein in costs while maintaining quality. No health care provider – large or small, urban or rural, acute or long-term care – can escape these challenges.
Over the years, several regional networks grew up around our state as a way to share knowledge and discuss difficult issues with colleagues facing similar ethical challenges. Among these were the Piedmont Bioethics Network as well as networks in Charlotte, the coastal region and mountain area. However, these regional networks proved difficult to sustain as their volunteer leaders were drawn into the demands of their own work.
Yet the need remained for an organization to provide clinical ethics education, facilitate deliberation on ethical quandaries, and exchange best practices. The statewide network concept grew out of an Ethics Jamboree convened in 2011 by the UNC Center for Bioethics. Drawing on conversations with hospital ethics committee chairs around the state as well as the experiences of networks in other states, the network idea was nurtured – both creatively and financially – by a group of founders from Duke, East Carolina University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University. CENNC was officially formed in 2013. The original Executive Committee provided strategic direction for CENNC, established priorities and objectives, reviewed progress toward objectives, and ensured fiscal responsibility. Its members included:
- Lisa Hammon, Executive Director
- Deborah Love, Founding Executive Director
- Philip Rosoff, MD, MA, Duke Founder Representative
- Janet Malek, PhD, ECU Founder Representative
- Arlene Davis, JD and Eric Juengst, PhD, UNC Founder Representatives
- John Moskop, PhD and Nancy M. P. King, JD, Wake Forest University Founder Representatives
- Kathy Meacham, PhD, MAHEC Representative
To support its educational mission and enhance sustainability, CENNC secured 501(c)3 status as a program area of MAHEC (Mountain Area Health Education Center) in Asheville. That relationship continued until fall 2016 when the Network transitioned to an organization based in its various founding centers.