Parents find pro-life healthcare for children with new pediatric clinic

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Catholic parents in the Diocese of Phoenix now have a pro-life choice when it comes to the pediatric care of their children.

Dana Rodriguez heads Morning Star’s new pediatric office, which opened Oct. 1. (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)

Morning Star OB/GYN in Gilbert expanded and opened a pediatric office Oct. 1. Pediatric nurse practitioner Dana Rodriguez will head the center in response to “the increasing demand of East Valley families for high-quality, dependable pediatric services in line with the professional and ethical standards they have come to expect from our practice,” said founder Dr. Clint Leonard.

Morning Star Pediatrics is located in close proximity to its sister — or parent — office, which was started by Leonard 14 years earlier.

In addition, Dr. Erica Kreller joined Morning Star OB/GYN, Sept. 23, to help care for the 3,600 patients, including some who live as far away as Flagstaff.

Kreller is an experienced, NaPro-trained (Natural Procreative Technology) OB/GYN physician whose presence will broaden the surgical expertise in the office and provide much needed call support for laboring patients at the hospital.

Roxanne Rose has been a patient for the past seven years. She left her former doctor when it was suggested she take birth control pills to regulate her menstrual cycle.

“I knew in my heart it wasn’t right. I left there disappointed, and at church that next Sunday I saw their ad in our parish bulletin.”

Rose said she was overjoyed to find a doctor whose practice aligned with her Catholic beliefs. And she, like many, wondered if and when Leonard would open a practice for children.

“For many years, after our patients deliver, they ask if they could bring their new babies in to ‘get the kind of care for them as they receive with us,’” said Christine Accurso, practice manager.

“Dr. Leonard discerned that for a while. We made a plan to offer a new specialty in pediatrics and then when a pediatric healthcare provider surfaced, we moved forward.”

Rose said she and her husband, Joseph, appreciate the whole-person approach to her healthcare and it’s invaluable that her children will also benefit from the treatment of the mind, body and spirit.

“Not only will they tell my children why something is bad for them physically, but also why morally we don’t want to do this or that,” Rose said. “You don’t receive this kind of care in a secular office.”

David and Kristi Hillier have four children ages 20, 17, 13 and 11. The couple said they believe a Catholic practice will have their children’s best interests in mind when helping make good decisions.

“We believe a Catholic practice will respect the dignity of each of our children as members of the Body of Christ, and will not give them advice or lead them in a direction that will conflict with the faith we have handed down to them,” the Hilliers said.

Kristi has been with Dr. Leonard since 2007 when advice from her former doctor went against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Her oldest daughter has been seeing Dr. Leonard for the past two years.

“A secular doctor is not going to be concerned about our Catholic beliefs,” the couple said. “We do not want to be worried about being persuaded or pressured to vaccinate our children against HPV or be offered a birth control pill to treat other conditions such as acne.”

And when it comes to moral and ethical discussions on social issues like abortion, drugs and sexuality, the couple vehemently agree a pro-life doctor will approach it from a Catholic pro-life perspective and not simply a clinical one.

Dr. Clint Leonard, founder of Morning Star OB/GYN and Morning Star Pediatrics (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)

“We believe they will be able to reinforce our work as parents in teaching our children about the physical, psychological and spiritual consequences of sex before marriage and recreational drug use,” David and Kristi said. “Additionally, with a Catholic practice, we trust that abortion and harmful or unnecessary drugs will not be brought up as options.”

Morning Star Pediatrics prides itself on providing not only excellent medical care, but partnering with parents to provide ethical and compassionate healthcare that “respects” the whole person.

“I’m excited that we are able to serve families in a more complete way through the addition of pediatrics. By serving pregnant women, we already serve families bringing new life into the world,” Dr. Leonard said, adding, “By extending our healing environment and positive culture to pediatrics, we provide a continuity of that excellent service. In today’s changing culture, parents are seeking reliable pediatrics providers to care for their children, and we plan to be there for them.”

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