The History of Charles Warren
Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics

A Living Memorial

In 1999, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation approached the CEO of Clarian Health Partners (the historic predecessor of IU Health) about the possibility of a living memorial to Richard Fairbanks's grandfather, Charles Warren Fairbanks, who was a leading citizen and businessman of Indiana.  He served two terms in the United States Senate (1897-1905) before becoming the 26th vice president of the United States (1905-09) in the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt.  The Honorable Charles Warren Fairbanks spoke at the laying of the Cornerstone for Methodist Hospital in October 1905.  He served on Methodist Hospital’s first Board of Directors and as president of the Board.  He was a generous patron of Methodist Hospital for many years.  In 2002, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation endowed the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics (FCME) at Methodist Hospital and Indiana University Health as a living memorial to continue his legacy of service to the people of Indiana.

Richard M . Fairbanks portrait

The Early Years

Dr. Paul Helft was appointed the first Director of FCME in 2004.  At the time, Dr. Helft served as an assistant professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and was formerly a fellow in Clinical Medical Ethics at the renowned MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.  During the first few years of activity, the mission of FCME was defined and clarified while developing the foundations of the programs offered, including support and development of the ethics consultation service, and educational programs for students and clinicians.  Dr. Helft and a growing group of members of the IU Health ethics community created the first important programs sponsored by the FCME, including the Fairbanks Fellowship in Clinical Ethics and the Fairbanks Program in Nursing Ethics.  FCME also began its developing research portfolio in the early years, and it would lead to developing a seminal tool in Nursing Ethics, the Moral Distress Thermometer.

A conference room with a projector

Our Continued Growth

The Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics is currently supported by superb faculty and staff who work closely with the IU Health Department of Clinical and Organizational Ethics to support service, education, and research missions across the spectrum of clinical ethical issues and throughout the statewide network of hospitals.  The accomplishments of FCME to date are now too numerous to list, but include graduating more than 100 fellows since 2005, assisting in policy development, hosting a monthly ethics lecture series, and working with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) to create practicum and internship opportunities for graduate students.

If you would like to donate to the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics, please visit the IU Health Foundation website and select Make a Gift. On the following page select IU Health Methodist and specify Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics in the 'other' field under 'Please direct my gift to' on the form.