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Release: May 9, 2001

Edward Bell receives UI Faculty Humanism in Medicine Award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Edward Bell, M.D., University of Iowa professor of pediatrics and director of neonatology at Children's Hospital of Iowa, will receive the UI College of Medicine's 2001 Faculty Humanism in Medicine Award.

Each year, one UI medical faculty member receives the award for demonstrating the highest standard of compassion and sensitivity in interacting with patients. Nearly three-quarters of all medical schools in the United States participate in the award program, which is funded by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey and carries a $2,000 stipend for the recipient selected at each school.

Bell will receive the faculty award at the college's commencement ceremonies May 11. Kentrell Liddell, a graduating UI medical student, will receive the Student Humanism in Medicine Award the same day.

Bell's clinical work focuses on newborn intensive care and the post-discharge care of medically fragile babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He was nominated for the award by his colleague, John Widness, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics.

Widness said that Bell helps facilitate the honest and compassionate exchange of information that allows parents expecting a high-risk baby to be better prepared for the arrival of their child. More than 10 years ago, Bell helped establish the NICU prenatal consultation service for pregnant women and their families.

"From the onset, Dr. Bell recognized the importance of the prenatal counseling program for families, led the effort to make it happen and continues to oversee its steady improvement," Widness said. "He has dedicated himself so consistently and skillfully to preparing families for what lies ahead at delivery."

Widness said that establishing a link with families expecting high-risk babies helps them in many ways: by introducing them to someone who will be a familiar face after the birth of their child; by helping them imagine how their child will be cared for in the nursery; and by assuring them there is a person to call if questions arise.

He added that Bell makes every effort to understand the particular circumstances of each infant patient and the parents so he can best help the family.

"Dr. Bell is an excellent listener and always gives families the opportunity to let him know what is on their minds before offering his thoughts," Widness said.

Karen and Dan Bernick of Walcott received care from Bell when their daughter, Hope, now 8, was born 15 weeks prematurely at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. After her birth, Hope was an inpatient for nearly one year.

Karen Bernick said Bell not only provided excellent care for Hope but he also provided much needed support to Bernick and her husband.

"Dr. Bell gave us information and answered our many questions, put us in touch with other parents, comforted us during Hope's worst times and shared our joy when progress was made," said Bernick, who was instrumental in creating "The Parent Connection," a parental support group Bell co-founded in the early 1990s.

Bernick added that Bell also was known to bring leftovers from a staff luncheon, help transport their belongings through the hospital and politely answer a grandparent's questions.

"We know that this attention from Dr. Bell was not necessarily 'special' treatment," Bernick said. "It is what Dr. Bell does, day in and day out."

Widness said that Bell's concern for his patients and their families does not end with their discharge from the hospital. Under Bell's leadership, "The Parent Connection" support group and the NICU nursing staff organize NICU graduate reunions and annual memorial services.

In addition to providing extensive support to families, Bell also helps train UI medical students, pediatrics residents and neonatology fellows through one-on-one student-teacher relationships.

A UI faculty member since 1979, Bell earned his medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in neonatology. His research interests include thermal physiology, fluid and electrolyte balance, energy metabolism, and anemia and transfusion practices in preterm infants.

Bell also has worked on humanitarian efforts in a number of countries, including Romania, Portugal and Russia, to help local medical teams learn improved methods and approaches to newborn care.

"Dr. Bell has consistently demonstrated high standards of compassion and sensitivity in his interactions with patients, families, staff and colleagues," Widness said. "He is very deserving of the college's Faculty Humanism in Medicine Award."

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.