This is the fourth and final in a series for Respect Life Month, which is observed annually in October. This year’s theme is “Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty.” As Pope Benedict XVI said during his recent apostolic visit to Lebanon, “The grandeur and the raison d’être of each person are found in God alone.”
By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — Two doctors who received financial aid to learn the Creighton Model of FertilityCare are grateful for the model’s blessings in their practices and want to help other physicians share it with patients, too.
The Creighton Model is an advanced method of what was previously known as natural family planning and allows for the integration of fertility goals with medical health, said Melinda Pallone. She, her husband Dr. Stephen Pallone and Dr. Monica Minjeur spoke at St. Wenceslaus Parish Hall on Oct. 13 to promote the model and thank the parish Knights of Columbus, who’d helped fund the physicians’ training.
Stephen Pallone was a resident in family medicine at the University of Iowa in 2010 when he made a request of his fellow Knights of Columbus at St. Wenceslaus. Could they help with tuition for a program through the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha so that he could become a medical consultant for the Creighton Model? Cost of tuition, fees and living expenses accrued during the six-month program totals about $5,000, he said.
The Knights agreed to contribute. Later, he helped establish grants to assist with Creighton Model training for people studying to become a medical consultant or a practitioner, supervisor or educator. Minjeur, a family physician in Cedar Rapids, is the first grant recipient.
Both doctors said they received little education on natural family planning (NFP) in classes for their medical degree. Pallone described an academic culture at his medical school in Virginia that either dismissed or was hostile to natural methods. In his own research, he discovered that studies gauging the effectiveness of family planning compared “perfect” use of artificial contraceptives to “typical” use of NFP. “When you compare apples to apples,” NFP’s effectiveness is similar to that of artificial means, he said.
Now living in Sioux City, he and Melinda practice the Creighton Model in their marriage. “We chose this method because of its ease of use, the way it values a couple’s fertility rather than just that of the female and its ability to bond couples through open conversations and respect for each individual,” she said.
She added that she rejects the “poison” of contraceptives that could increase her risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer.
The Pallones have one son, Giuseppe. After he was born, cardiologists told her not to get pregnant again because she is at risk of post-delivery cardiomyopathy, a heart disease. But the couple decided through prayer to stick with the Creighton Model.
“I believe this is a beautiful testimony to the glory of God and the blessing of the Creighton Model to our Church and the world,” Melinda said.
The model has been crucial in shaping Minjeur into the physician she is today, the doctor said. A native Iowan, she was disappointed with her education on family planning at a medical school in Kansas City, and worried about what tools she’d be able to give her patients.
During her residency training, she met doctors who’d been trained in the women’s health science of natural procreative (NaPro) technology. Their patients had found answers to infertility, recurrent miscarriages, chronic pelvic pain and PMS, she said.
“I knew I needed this training to be a good doctor.” What she didn’t know was how to pay for it.
The Knights of Columbus grant was the answer to her and her husband’s prayers, she said.
She completed the second part of her training in Omaha in April and has been using her education to care for patients at all stages of life.
“Women and families need to know that there are better options,” Minjeur said. “I would ask for your continued support so that we may educate more providers in our area to make this way of thinking the new mainstream.”
The St. Wenceslaus Knights of Columbus have approved two grants of up to $2,500 for two applicants in 2013, said council member David Fetzer. The parish’s Oct. 13 event raised money toward a grant for a third applicant who has been accepted into a Creighton Model training program.
For more information, visit http://stwencic.com/kc/nfpinfo.php or www.popepaulvi.com.