Jean and Vern Packard Share Talents and Faith at the Institute

Jean Packard and her husband Vern.

Jean Packard and her husband Vern.

There are several of the Pope Paul VI Institute’s employees who have served the Institute for many years, and this is especially true for Jean and Vern Packard. While Jean’s tenure at the Institute dates back to its founding in 1985, she has worked with Pope Paul VI Institute founder, Dr. Thomas Hilgers, since 1978 when she was hired by Hilgers to fill a grant-funded position.

“I was working at Creighton at the time, and when the opportunity to work with Dr. Hilgers became available, I knew I just had to work for this man who had this fire in his eyes when he spoke about his research,” Packard recounts of her decision to take the position.

It was seven years later when Packard followed Dr. Hilgers to the newly-founded Pope Paul VI Institute, which occupied the second and third floors of the newly-built structure at 6901 Mercy Road. At that time, she completed the one-year FertilityCare Practitioner Program.

Over the next 30 years, the Institute would eventually take over the entire three-story building, and Packard would perform a number of roles, primarily as Personal Administrator to Dr. Hilgers for 25 years. She also served as editor of the 2004 publication of the Institute, “In Their Own Words: Women Healed.”

In addition to this, Packard also developed newsletters and brochures, and for 10 years, she coordinated the Institute’s affiliate organization, FertilityCare Centers of America (FCCA).

“It’s been amazing working for Dr. Hilgers. He has been so supportive of me and my development as a professional,” Packard says of her time working with Hilgers. “With his encouragement, I served on the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals board of directors, including a one-year term as president. I grew from someone who dreaded public speaking to regularly speaking to groups of physicians and teachers.”

In addition to the many professional accomplishments Packard experienced as an Institute employee, it is her return to the Catholic faith that is among the most meaningful effects of her tenure.

“The witness of the staff here and of Dr. Hilgers had a tremendous impact on me,” Packard says.

This impact is not limited to Jean, but also her husband, Vern, who has served as a volunteer at the Institute for many years. Together, the two of them have become good friends with the Hilgers, with Dr. Hilgers serving as Vern’s confirmation sponsor. “It is spiritually gratifying to see just how committed the Hilgers are to their work here,” Vern says. “This includes Tom, Sue, and their children.”

His wife, Jean, echoes these sentiments. “Dr. Hilgers has shown us to stick by our faith, regardless of the veracity of the attacks,” Jean shares. “He never wavers from his beliefs and this is imparted to patients, staff, Creighton Model and NaProTechnology providers and all those he encounters. It’s been such an honor and blessing to be involved in this groundbreaking health care which helps build strong marriages and healthy families.”

Meet the St. John Paul II Fellows for 2015–2016

2015-16_Fellows

The St. John Paul II Fellows for 2015–2016 (left to right): Dr. Melissa Taavola, Dr. Kathleen McGlynn, and Dr. Alexis Simon.

Every year, thanks to your support, the St. John Paul the Great Fellowship Program trains post-graduate OB-GYN physicians from around the country in NaProTechnology. Our three outstanding 2015–2016 Fellows are, from left to right:

  • Dr. Melissa Taavola from Hartland, Wisconsin. She enjoys hiking, travel, mission work in Haiti, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and the Green Bay Packers. “Women deserve the best possible care for their reproductive health by diagnosing and treating the underlying problem.”
  • Dr. Kathleen McGlynn from Tallahassee, Florida. She enjoys running, sports, music, and skies. “I came to the Institute with the hope of expanding my knowledge and skills to be able to take care of women in the best way I possibly can.”
  • Dr. Alexis Simon from Maryville, Missouri. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Don, and two awesome children, Chase and Adalynn. “I am so excited to be spending a year at the NaPro mecca of the world!”

To learn more about the St. John Paul the Great Fellowship in Medical & Surgical NaProTechnology, please visit popepaulvi.com/fellowship.

Institute publishes largest study of its kind

The Pope Paul VI Institute publishes largest study of its kind on the safety of progesterone use in pregnancy

prog-molecule

A progesterone molecule.

In the December 2015 issue of Issues in Law & Medicine, the Pope Paul VI Institute published the largest research study of its kind on fetal safety with the use of progesterone in pregnancy. The authors of this study were Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, the Director of the Pope Paul VI Institute, and Associate Medical Consultants Catherine E. Keefe, MD and Kristina A. Pakiz, MD.

This study covered a total of 1,310 pregnancies that had been supported by bioidentical, or naturally-occurring, progesterone and the outcome of those pregnancies based on any problems that may have occurred in the babies (from 1979 – 2014). The results were compared to a second group of 453 pregnancies that did not receive progesterone during the course of their pregnancies. The group receiving progesterone was considered to be at a higher risk for problems than the control group primarily because of the large number of patients who had reproductive abnormalities in that particular group. The overall incidence of fetal anomalies observed in patients who took progesterone and those who did not take progesterone was identical: 2.2%. While there have been other studies on the fetal safety of progesterone, this study’s sample size was 2.5 times larger than any previous study of its kind.

The study concluded that bio-identical progesterone posed no risk of teratogenicity or malformations when used to support pregnancy, either in the early or later days of gestation.

Between 150–200 pregnancies are managed each month at the Pope Paul VI Institute with progesterone support.

Meet the St. John Paul II Fellows for 2015–2016

The St. John Paul II Fellows for 2015–2016 (left to right): Dr. Melissa Taavola, Dr. Kathleen McGlynn, and Dr. Alexis Simon.

The St. John Paul II Fellows for 2015–2016 (left to right): Dr. Melissa Taavola, Dr. Kathleen McGlynn, and Dr. Alexis Simon.

Every year, thanks to your support, the St. John Paul the Great Fellowship Program trains post-graduate OB-GYN physicians from around the country in NaProTechnology. Our three outstanding 2015–2016 Fellows are, from left to right:

  • Dr. Melissa Taavola from Hartland, Wisconsin. She enjoys hiking, travel, mission work in Haiti, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and the Green Bay Packers. “Women deserve the best possible care for their reproductive health by diagnosing and treating the underlying problem.”
  • Dr. Kathleen McGlynn from Tallahassee, Florida. She enjoys running, sports, music, and skies. “I came to the Institute with the hope of expanding my knowledge and skills to be able to take care of women in the best way I possibly can.”
  • Dr. Alexis Simon from Maryville, Missouri. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Don, and two awesome children, Chase and Adalynn. “I am so excited to be spending a year at the NaPro mecca of the world!”

To learn more about the St. John Paul the Great Fellowship in Medical & Surgical NaProTechnology, please visit popepaulvi.com/fellowship.

Giving the gift of life this year




The Pope Paul VI Institute was established in 1985 to build a culture of life in women’s reproductive health care. Over the past 30 years, we have served thousands of women and their families through superior health care that cooperates with women’s natural fertility cycles, promotes life, and is 100% consistent with Catholic Church teaching.

Fellowship Program

The St. John Paul the Great Fellowship Program provides obstetrician-gynecologists with the distinct opportunity to pursue advanced study in reproductive health, preparing them to practice medicine that fully accords with Church teaching and that cooperates with women’s menstrual and fertility cycles.

During their time in the program, the Fellows receive an education to help them serve the reproductive health needs of women through practices that are compassionate, do not obstruct or defy women’s biology, are 100% consistent with Church teaching, and are superior to mainstream medical practices, which often utilize methods that destroy, rather than promote, life.

Education & Training

The Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction is a world leader in providing education and research in the area of the natural regulation of human fertility and also the development of morally and professionally acceptable reproductive health services.

Programs Include:
  • The Education Program, Phases I and II. Held annually, this eight-day conference (which is held each spring and fall) provides training in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System for practitioners, instructors, medical consultants, nurses, educators and others.
  • The Love and Life Unlimited Conference. Held twice annually, this five-day conference is designed to ponder, promote, and proclaim the Catholic vision of reproduction health care.
Research & Ethics

The Pope Paul VI Institute is strongly committed to promoting the understanding of the Church’s position on issues of human sexuality and reproduction and to discovering new technologies that provide healing to women and affirm the Church’s stance on these controversial issues.

The Institute proudly conducts scientific research that is designed to develop new and superior approaches in women’s reproductive health care. The Institute is also proud to promote the Catholic Church’s position on controversial issues related to reproductive health care and human sexuality through publications, presentations and consultations.

To continue this mission, we need your help. Please consider a gift to support the Institute. Your generous support can help support our programs and outreach efforts that singularly focus on building a culture of life in women’s reproductive health care.

Pope Paul VI Institute Extends Hope and Faith to Bora Family

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Terri and Bipin Bora with their youngest son.

It was in 2001, after their second miscarriage, when Terri and Bipin Bora knew there was something wrong. The couple had a daughter at the time, but they had lost each of their successive pregnancies — at 18 weeks and 10 weeks respectively.

It was around that time when the couple saw a news segment featuring Dr. Alan Beer, renowned expert in the areas of fertility and pregnancy loss. “The segment really struck a chord with us given our situation,” Terri recounts.

On a whim, the Terri emailed Dr. Beer, who suggested the Boras contact Dr. Hilgers and the Pope Paul VI Institute.

In 2002, the Boras met with Dr. Hilgers, who was “extremely supportive.” This support would soon become apparent when the Boras found themselves pregnant, a pregnancy which went 22 weeks without incident — until Terri began dilating.

“This all began happening on a Friday, and we were extremely worried,” says Terri, recalling the experience. “Dr. Hilgers was out of town, and I was 80% dilated, on the verge of rupturing, and was given a battery of medications in preparation for a premature baby, which we were expecting.”

The situation was so dire, in fact, that the attending medical staff had given Bipin a tour of the NICU, the intensive care unit for premature babies.

But Terri adds, “Then we spoke to Dr. Hilgers, who said the NICU is nice, but not for your baby. And I’ll never forget as long as I live what he said next: ‘We’re going to go in and save your baby.’”

A cervical cerclage is a procedure where stitches are placed within the cervix to close a rupture and prevent an early delivery. Using this procedure — coupled with bedrest, progesterone, and antibiotics — Dr. Hilgers was 99% confident that he could help the Boras take their pregnancy full-term.

It was in the moments leading up to her surgery when Terri would find additional comfort, as a minister who knew that Dr. Hilgers would be performing the surgery stopped by her bed.

“He said ‘you are in good hands … he is a man of God,’” she recounts.

The surgery was success, and it was 17 weeks later — at 39 weeks — when the Boras would have the cerclage stitches removed, paving the way for the birth of their son, who is now 10 years old.

“Dr. Hilgers performed a miracle,” says Terri. “Without Dr. Hilgers, I know my son would not be here today.”

Today, the Boras have four children — the three youngest (all boys) through the Pope Paul VI Institute.

“Growing up in a Christian background, I was accustomed to prayer. That is why it was so comforting to me when the nurses put their hands on my shoulder and began to pray before my surgery,” Bora says. “When you go through the tragedy of losing a child, you get shaken, but the witness of the staff and doctors at the Pope Paul VI Institute was so strong and reassuring; it strengthened our belief in God.”

Meet Dr. Gavin Puthoff and the St. John Paul II Fellows

Click here to listen to an interview with Drs. Gavin Putoff and Jamie Hernandez,
which aired on KVSS on Monday morning, June 8.

[ photo ]

Dr. Gavin Putoff


Dr. Gavin Puthoff is one of three St. John Paul II Fellows for the 2014–2015 year. Named in honor of the late pontiff St. John Paul II — an ardent supporter of the Pope Paul VI Institute — this Fellowship Program provides obstetrician/gynecologists (OB-GYNs) with advanced training in the medical and surgical applications of the Institute’s medical breakthrough in women’s health, NaProTECHNOLOGY.

Dr. Puthoff graduated in 2014 from the OB-GYN residency program at Mercy Hospital Medical Center in St. Louis and is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Born in Austin, Texas, Puthoff became a Catholic at the age of 15, which played a significant role in his decision to enter the medical profession, and more specifically, to become an OB-GYN.

As Puthoff says, “The field of OB-GYN is unique in the way it focuses on a woman’s health and fertility. At its core, it is a very pro-life area of medicine as it involves one of the most important times in a woman’s life — the birth of her child. This is one of the reasons I chose to pursue training in this field.”

fellows

St. John Paul the Great Fellows for 2014–2015: Drs. Amie Holmes, Gavin Puthoff, and Jamie Hernandez.

While in medical school at the University of Texas at Houston, Puthoff met another future OB-GYN and St. John Paul II Fellow, Dr. Steve Hilgers, son of Pope Paul VI Institute Director and Founder, Dr. Thomas Hilgers. This encounter with the young Dr. Hilgers played an important role in Dr. Puthoff’s decision to complete the fellowship training in NaProTECHNOLOGY.

“With NaProTECHNOLOGY, I can address issues that cannot be addressed through mainstream obstetrics and gynecology,” says Puthoff of the training he is receiving through the Fellowship program. “Of particular interest to me, NaProTECHNOLOGY provides very effective — and morally acceptable — treatments for the conditions that cause infertility, which gives new hope to many couples struggling with infertility.”

Dr. Puthoff is looking forward to returning to St. Louis in August, where he will open a new NaProTECHNOLOGY Practice at Mercy Hospital. The FertilityCare Center at Mercy hospital was founded over 30 years ago by Diane Daly and Ann Prebil, co-developers of the Creighton Model FertiltyCare System.

“It has been an incredible opportunity to spend this year working with Dr. Hilgers and the staff of the Pope Paul VI Institute,” he says. “Thanks to Dr. Hilgers and his extensive research in this field, Catholic OB-GYNs like myself can offer patients valuable and effective treatments while remaining true to our moral convictions and the teachings of the Church.”

Dr. Chris Stroud Lives out His Faith, Finds Success

Dr. Chris Stroud

Dr. Chris Stroud

As a practicing OB-GYN and a recent convert to the faith, Dr. Christopher Stroud of Fort Wayne, Indiana knew the Catholic Church’s teaching that contraception was morally wrong, but he did not fully understand why. This all began to change one day after attending confession.

“As I was confessing my sins, I sort of mentioned in passing that I was an OB-GYN and prescribed contraceptives,” Stroud says. “But I suddenly understood the seriousness of this when the priest placed his hand on my leg, gave me a concerned look and said I had to stop.”

At the priest’s referral, Dr. Stroud met with a fellow local physician, Dr. Patrick Holly, who suggested that the two of them read Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae together.

Stroud recounts reading Humanae Vitae as a turning point for him as an OB-GYN. “Pope Paul VI expressed so clearly and beautifully the Church’s position on reproduction and other matters. Like a lot of Catholics, I knew the Church teaches that contraception was objectively always seriously wrong, but did not know why. He did such an amazing job of presenting the union between a man and woman as holy. Humanae Vitae is so clear on these matters and it suddenly made so much sense.”

At the urging of Dr. Holly, Stroud looked into the Pope Paul VI Institute and its medical consultant education program, to which Stroud applied and began attending in the fall of 2012.

It did not take long for the Medical Consultant program to make a profound impact on Stroud.

“I had made the decision to follow Church teaching. I was going to contact my patients and let them know that as of the new year, I would no longer prescribe contraceptives nor make referrals for sterilization,” he said. “But after the first day at Education Phase I (EPI), I called my wife and said, ‘I am not going to wait until January; we need to do this immediately.’”

He said that his wife, as she did throughout the entire transition, was completely supportive.

With months of mortgage payments in savings, the Strouds made the shift.

“We thought we were done,” recalls Stroud. “But we also felt as if we had no choice.”

Instead, Stroud discovered that for every patient he lost, he gained three in return. His practice grew so dramatically that in September 2014, he and his wife, a certified nurse-midwife, opened their own medical practice providing NaProTechnology services. The new practice is growing fast with many patients driving long distances to receive what Stroud calls “faithful, authentic, effective fertility care.”

“It seems that every turn, God seems to say ‘do more,’ and as I do, He rewards me,” Stroud says. “I have patients who come to us because they want a Catholic approach to their reproductive health, who want a disease-based approach to address their fertility challenges.”

Today, Stroud could not be happier with his decision.

“This feels more like a vocation than a job,” he says. “We pray with our patients before surgery. I’m frequently asked to give presentations and when I do, I tell the audience that they don’t have to choose between their faith and their fertility. I love to tell them there’s a better way.

“The research and programs of the Pope Paul VI Institute are so important. I will be indebted for all of eternity to Dr. Hilgers and the staff who are building a culture of life in the field of reproductive health care. They gave me a new career, a new vocation.”

Pope Paul VI Institute Is Only Choice for Hope and Dan DeLuca

Hope and Dan DeLuca with their three boys.

Hope and Dan DeLuca with their three boys.

Like many couples, when Hope and Dan DeLuca had trouble conceiving, they found true healing at the Pope Paul VI Institute, but their need for healing did not end there.

“We married in 2004 and just could not conceive,” says Hope. “Our doctor at the time wanted to prescribe birth control, which I never really understood because we were trying to have children.”

It was then that they turned to the Pope Paul VI Institute and Dr. Thomas Hilgers who diagnosed the root cause of the infertility, an extreme case of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Following an ovarian wedge resection surgery, three years later, the DeLucas were expecting their first child in 2010.

“We chose to go with another doctor at the time to handle the pregnancy — not because we were not happy with the Pope Paul VI Institute, but because of our insurance coverage,” Hope said. “We thought that once we became pregnant, the challenges were over.”

However, an undiagnosed uterine infection posed a real threat of miscarriage and ultimately caused their son to be born premature at 25 weeks. He spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit, underwent four surgeries, was ventilated for over two months, and suffered brain hemorrhages and a perforated bowl.

After the complications with their first pregnancy, the DeLucas again sought the services of the Pope Paul VI Institute to help conceive their second child. This time, however, they also turned to the Institute to handle the pregnancy: a pregnancy that bore some resemblance to the first when Hope again presented with symptoms of a uterine infection.

“I had symptoms at 10 weeks and again at 26 weeks, but Dr. Hilgers and Dr. [Kristina] Pakiz knew exactly what to do,” Hope recalls. “Two rounds of IV antibiotics relieved the symptoms, and we went the full term.”

Their third pregnancy also presented similar symptoms, but again Pope Paul VI Institute was able to address the infection.

“I get teary-eyed just thinking of the Pope Paul VI Institute,” says Hope. “When we finally got pregnant, we thought we were in the clear, but we never really were. We should have stuck with the Pope Paul VI Institute because they know what they are doing.”

Archbishop Emeritus Curtiss Continues Long-Time Support for Institute as Spiritual Director

Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha, Elden Francis Curtiss

Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha, Elden Francis Curtiss

The Pope Paul VI Institute is on the front lines in the fight against a culture of death that is continuing to pervade every nation and community across the globe. Fortunately, the Institute is well-supported in this fight, and among its strongest supporters is Archbishop Emeritus Elden F. Curtiss, former Archbishop for the Archdiocese of Omaha and the Institute’s current Spiritual Director.

In this role, Archbishop Emeritus Curtiss celebrates mass several times each month in the Institute’s Chapel of the Holy Family and also helped to develop the Institute’s impressive Bishops Advisory Board. The Board, which is comprised of cardinals and bishops from throughout the world, including Cardinals Timothy Dolan and Raymond Burke, as well as Archbishops Samuel Aquila and George Lucas amongst others, provides spiritual support to the Institute and its unique mission.

For Curtiss, serving as the Institute’s Spiritual Director is an extension of his longtime support for the Institute, which dates back to his time serving as Bishop for the Diocese of Helena, Montana.

“I received a letter from Pope Paul VI Institute in the early 1980s, and here was this organization that was truly responding to Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and its appeal to medical professionals,” Curtiss recounts. “The Institute and its mission had tremendous importance, and this was immediately apparent to me.”

After he was named Archbishop of Omaha in 1993 by Saint John Paul the Great, his support of the Institute would continue. It was during his time as Archbishop when Curtiss received further confirmation of the Institute’s unique contribution.

“Pope John Paul told me that the Institute gave him ‘great hope for the future’,” says Curtiss. “While I knew the Institute was doing great work, to hear it directly from the Holy Father was special.”

The future of the Institute and its mission is indeed cause for hope, according to Curtiss.

“It did not have a lot of support in the beginning, but Dr. Thomas Hilgers’ groundbreaking research has not only proven itself effective in pinpointing fertility cycles, but it is also gaining acceptance amongst young medical professionals who recognize the harmful aspects of a contraceptive approach to reproductive health care.”

“Pope Paul VI Institute does not take shortcuts in its treatment,” he says. “It seeks to address the real causes and always, children are important to us — they are not secondary.”

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