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Pediatric Bioethics in the Shadow of COVID Symposium

The COVID-19 pandemic raised complicated ethical issues for children and those who care for them. On May 5, 2021, the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center hosted a symposium to discuss these complex ethical issues. Thought leaders in pediatric bioethics and health policy reflected on the successes, failures and surprises that arose and that likely will continue with the COVID-19 pandemic.

View and download presentations and handouts from the "Pediatric Bioethics in the Shadow of COVID Symposium."

Confirmed speakers

Alyssa Burgart, MD

Alyssa Burgart, MD is a pediatric anesthesiologist who is Chair of the Ethics Committee at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University.

Doug Diekema, MD, MPH 

Doug Diekema, MD, MPH is a pediatric ER physician and past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics.

Helene Gayle, MD, MPH

Helene Gayle, MD, MPH is a pediatrician who is President of the Chicago Community Trust and Co-Chair of the National Academy of Medicine's working group on justice in the allocation of COVID vaccines.

John D. Lantos, MD

John D. Lantos, MD is a pediatrician and Director of the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center.

Laura Specker Sullivan, PhD

Laura Specker Sullivan, PhD is a philosopher-bioethicist whose work focuses on disability and cross-cultural understanding.

Ian Wolfe, PhD, RN, CCRN, HEC-C

Ian Wolfe, PhD, RN, CCRN, HEC-C is a Staff Clinical Ethicist and Chair of the Pediatric Ethics Affinity Group of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

Opening Remarks

9 to 9:10 a.m.

John D. Lantos, MD
Director, Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center, Children’s Mercy

COVID is Not the Same Everywhere: Different Countries’ Responses to the Pandemic

9:10 to 10:10 a.m.

Certificate Program Graduates Panel:

  • Jagdish Chinnappa, MD
    Manipal Hospitals
    Bangalore, India

  • Sarosh Saleem, MBBS
    Shalamar Medical and Dental College
    Lahore, Pakistan

  • Hazel M. Gutiérrez, MD
    National Children’s Hospital
    San José, Costa Rica

  • Cecilia Adriana Alvarez-Cabrera, MD, MS
    Hospital Universitario San Ignacio


10:10 to 10:20 a.m.

Three Types of Distrust: Ignorance,
Misunderstanding, and Injustice

10:20 to 11:20 a.m.

Laura Specker Sullivan, PhD
Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Fordham University

Response: Barbara A. Pahud, MD, MPH
Research Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children’s Mercy


11:20 to 11:30 a.m.

Allocation of Scarce Resources During
the Pandemic

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Doug Diekema, MD, MPH
Director of Education Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics

Response: Laura Miller-Smith, MD
Interim Medical Director, Cardiac Critical Care, Children's Mercy, immediate past chair of the Children’s Mercy Ethics Committee


12:30 to 1:10 p.m.

Balancing Hope and Fear: Vaccine Access and Vaccine Hesitancy

1:10 to 2:10 p.m.

Alyssa Burgart, MD
Pediatric anesthesiologist; Chair of the Ethics Committee at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University

Response: Angie Myers, MD, MPH
Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Mercy


2:10 to 2:20 p.m.

Pediatric Nursing in the Pandemic: What is
Beyond our Scope of Practice?

2:20 to 3:20 p.m.

Ian Wolfe, PhD, RN, CCRN, HEC-C
Staff Clinical Ethicist; Chair of the Pediatric Ethics Affinity Group of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

Response: Charlotte Smardo, RN, CCRN
Critical Care Staff Nurse, Children's Mercy


3:20 to 3:30 p.m.

Links Between Public Health Crises and Economic Inequities

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Helene Gayle, MD, MPH
Pediatrician and President, Chicago Community Trust; Co-Chair of the CDC and National Academies Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus

Response: John Lantos, MD, Children’s Mercy

Final Thoughts

4:30 to 4:45 p.m.

John Lantos, MD
Children’s Mercy

Target audience

Child health professionals, including nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, administrators, lawyers and people who serve on hospital ethics committees.

Continuing education accreditation


Children’s Mercy Hospital is accredited by the Missouri State Medical Association to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Children’s Mercy Hospital designates this live educational activity for a maximum of 6.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


This educational activity has been awarded 6.25 contact hours.

Children’s Mercy Kansas City is approved with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the Midwest Multistate Division, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Successful Completion for CME and CNE:

  • Complete electronic sign-in at beginning of workshop.
  • Attend entire workshop.
  • Complete electronic post-workshop evaluation.

Americans with Disabilities Act

If you have special disability requirements, please submit requests for accommodation at least five working days prior to the conference.