Gervais talks ethics

February 7, 2013

Karen Gervais gave Rotary high marks for its foundational four-way test during her presentation at the club’s January 31st meeting. She is the director of the Minnesota Center for Health Care Ethics, a Twin Cities, nonprofit formed in 1994 to address ethical issues in healthcare.

A Northfield resident and visiting professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College, Karen said our four-way test closely mirrors the ethical framework her ethics center has developed to guide policy in times of disease pandemics or disasters. The three bedrock principles they use are: 1) What best serves the common good; 2) Is it fair; and 3) Are we being good stewards of scarce resources?

Over time, the center has addressed ethical issues inherent in managed care initiatives in health care. They have worked with the Minnesota Department of Health to outline ethical approaches to dispensing supplies and vaccine when pandemics or disasters strike and to engage the public in that discussion.

“Everything we do has to balance these ethical priorities,” she said.

For more information on her work, go to: