Porter Adventist Hospital Denver, CO

Reimagining Medicine

Wednesday, Apr. 06



Held on April 6-7, 2016.

At a time when healthcare has grown to a $3.8 trillion per year industry, in many ways medicine is broken. Racial discrimination plagues many healthcare systems; healthcare reform has emphasized access and paying for healthcare, but has done little to improve the experiences of physicians and patients; many doctors, nurses, and administrators find their spiritual and moral lives are separated from their daily practice.

April 6-7 heathlcare practitioners from across Colorado joined us for “Reimagining Medicine,” a conference addressing major issues in healthcare today from the perspective of Christian faith. The conference highlights some of the nation’s most respected voices on medicine, theology and culture.

The gathering included plenary lectures, breakout sessions and panel discussion on topics ranging from nursing to healthcare reform to the connection between faith & medicine.


Farr Curlin

Duke University School of Medicine

Farr Curlin holds joint appointments in the School of Medicine, including its Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, and in Duke Divinity School, including its Initiative on Theology, Medicine and Culture, where he is working with colleagues to develop a new interdisciplinary community of scholarship and trainin g . Prior to joining the faculty at Duke, he was associate professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Chicago and co-director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago, where he worked with colleagues from the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and the University of Chicago Divinity School to foster scholarship and discourse regarding the intersection of religion, ethics, and the practice of medicine. An active palliative physician as well, he is particularly concerned with the moral and spiritual dimensions of medical practice and the doctor-patient relationship, and with the moral and professional formation of physicians.

Dayna Matthew

University of Virginia School of Law

Professor Dayna Matthew serves as a Professor of Law the University of Virginia School of Law, where she teaches constitutional law, civil procedure, evidence, and a variety of health law classes. Professor Matthew's book, Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care was published by NYU Press in 2015.

Alyson Breisch

Breisch Heath Education

Alyson J. Breisch is president of Breisch Heath Education PLLC, which provides consultation and education in faith community nursing, health ministries, clinical advancement, and nursing leadership. As an educator, Breisch has presented more than 700 lectures, courses, and workshops, including staff development, patient and family education, graduate-level nursing courses, and regional and national continuing education programs. The recipient of the Duke Medical Center’s Friends of Nursing Excellence in Cardiac Nursing Award, she was the first nurse selected as a distinguished lecturer for Duke’s Heart Center Distinguished Lecturer series , where she continued to practice for 16 years and lectured for eight.

Warren Kinghorn

Duke University Medical Center

Dr. Warren Kinghorn is a psychiatrist whose work centers on the role of religious communities in caring for persons with mental health problems and on ways in which Christians engage practices of modern health care. Jointly appointed within Duke Divinity School and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Duke University Medical Center, he is a staff psychiatrist and clinical teacher at the Durham VA Medical Center. Within the Divinity School, he works closely with students and faculty members interested in exploring the ways in which theology and philosophy might constructively inform Christian engagement with modern medicine and psychiatry. He is also co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative. His current scholarly interests include the moral and theological dimensions of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, the applicability of virtue theory to the vocational formation of pastors and clinicians, and the contributions of the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas to contemporary debates about psychiatric diagnosis, psychiatric technology, and human flourishing.

Abraham Nussbaum

Denver Health

Abraham Nussbaum, M.D., M.T.S., is the Chief Educational Officer at at Denver Health and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He earned a master’s degree in Medicine and Theology from Duke Divinity School and is the author of The Pocket Guide to the DSM-5(TM) Diagnostic Exam. His recent book The Finest Traditions of My Calling received national acclaim.

Bob Cutillo

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Bob Cutillo (MD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons) is a physician for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in Denver, Colorado, an associate faculty member at Denver Seminary, and an assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He has also served as a missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bob currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Heather, and they have two married children. He is also the author of "Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age" (2016).

Morre Dean

Parker Adventist Hospital

Morre DeanMBA, joined Parker Adventist Hospital as president and chief executive officer in August 2011.  Mr. Dean ensures that the hospital is carrying out its mission of "extending the healing ministry of Christ by caring for those who are ill and by nurturing the health of the people in our communities." Prior to joining Parker Adventist Hospital, Mr. Dean served as president and chief executive officer of Glendale Adventist Medical Center in northern Los Angeles, where one of his proudest accomplishments was the introduction of the "I'm Here for You" customer service program that resulted in a 20 percent increase in patient satisfaction and "likely to recommend" scores. Before that, he served as president and chief executive officer of Walla Walla General Hospital in Washington, and vice president of operations at Porter and Littleton Adventist Hospitals.

Breakout Sessions

Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care

Over 84,000 black and brown lives are needlessly lost each year due to health disparities, the unfair, unjust, and avoidable differences between the quality and quantity of health care provided to Americans who are members of racial and ethnic minorities and care provided to whites. Health disparities have remained stubbornly entrenched in the American health care system. In this presentation, Dayna Matthew will explain how these disparities principally arise from unconscious racial and ethnic biases held by physicians, institutional providers, and their patients.

Implicit bias is the single most important determinant of health and health care disparities. Because we have missed this fact, the money we spend on training providers to become culturally competent, expanding wellness education programs and community health centers, and even expanding access to health insurance will have only a modest effect on reducing health disparities. Matthew argued for strong, evidence-based legal remedies that accurately address implicit and unintentional forms of discrimination, to replace the weak, tepid, and largely irrelevant legal remedies currently available.

Led by Dayna Matthew

Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age

Though we live in a world with greater health and more health care than ever before, the more health we have, the more anxious we are that we will lose it. Modern medicine, fueled by our fears, makes promises it cannot keep because it is based on a view of health that is not true. What if health is not a possession to control but a gift to nurture? How then would we pursue health differently and use health care more wisely?

Led by Bob Cutillo

The Path to Making Nursing a Ministry

The professional nurse balances the science of nursing (evidence-based knowledge and skills) and the art of nursing, (caring and compassion). The American Nurses Association (ANA) Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice notes that “the art of nursing is based on caring and respect for human dignity. There is a strong association between spirituality and coping with illness. (Rowe & Allen 2004). Nurses develop intimate helping relationships with individuals and families and provide care to persons across diverse health and illness settings. Consequently, it is essential for nurses to develop processes for performing spiritual assessment, development of spiritual nursing diagnoses and nursing interventions, and measurement of outcomes.

Healthcare systems are using Patient Satisfaction scores as a way of quantifying patients’ hospitalization experiences. Research findings note that patients whose spiritual needs are not being met are reporting lower ratings of quality and satisfaction with their care. Nurses may recognize that religion and spirituality are important ways of coping with illness yet have reasons that preclude them from discussing spiritual matters with patients. Some of the common barriers to providing care for the whole person include fear of “crossing professional boundaries”, and feeling unprepared to assess for and provide spiritual care.

In this session, Alyson Breisch explored how nursing becomes a ministry of presence when nurses are able to intentionally focus on holistic, person-centered care that promotes dignity, spiritual well-being, instillation of hope, and supportive care.

Led by Alyson Breisch