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Physician donates salary to promote palliative care

Dr. George Ho
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Dec. 18, 2003)   —   The patient, a man in his 70s, was dying. All the treatments that seemed reasonable to try had been attempted, and they hadn’t worked. Death was inevitable. The doctors knew it. The nurses knew it. But for some reason, nobody bothered to tell the patient or his family.

Scenes like this, with some variation, are repeated in hospitals across the country many times each day. When dealing with death, and helping patients and families cope with it, the medical profession too often comes up short.

Dr. George Ho is intent on changing that. What's more, the professor of internal medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University is putting his money where his mouth is. Ho announced this fall that he is donating the equivalent of a year’'s salary to the cause of improving palliative care--—the field of medicine that attempts to deal effectively and compassionately with patients at the end of their lives.

Over the course of three years, Ho will commit $63,000 -- —his net take-home pay after taxes and retirement are deducted --— to three purposes:

--Establishing an endowed professorship in palliative care in the medical school. He hopes the $45,000 gift to the Medical Foundation of ECU will serve as seed money to attract other gifts as well as matching funds from the University of North Carolina system.

--Creating a six-bed palliative care service at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. Ho will provide $15,000 to the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation.

--Supporting grassroots efforts with a gift of $3,000 to the End-of-Life Care Coalition of Eastern Carolina.

"We want to raise people's awareness and consciousness so that they can jump on the bandwagon," said Ho, a rheumatologist.

Over the last few years, Ho has been working with an interdisciplinary group at the medical center to improve palliative care. The group has helped plan a continuing medical education program for March 5. “"Advances and Controversies in Pain Management: A Symposium on Palliative Care at the End of Life,”" will be presented at the City Hotel and Bistro in Greenville.

The gift of a year’'s pay was Ho’'s idea to “give back to medicine.”

“"There’'s a wonderful sort of interrelatedness to all of this,"” said Lyne Gamble, interim president of the Medical Foundation. “"It affects every single branch of medicine.”"

“Added Ho: "It affects every single individual. “We can all relate to it because we all know someone who has died." ”

For more information about these initiatives, call the Medical Foundation at (252) 744-2238.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2481