New Catholic women’s health center to open in Rochester - Catholic Courier

New Catholic women’s health center to open in Rochester

As an undergraduate student 30 years ago, Dr. Angela Kristan was praying and dreaming about her future.

“I sketched out this ‘family life center’ that would have pediatric care, family medicine, a place to learn NFP (natural family planning), a place to do marriage preparation, counseling resources … anything you would need to support a family, and from cradle to grave,” Kristan said.

That dream is now becoming reality.

In September of 2024, the Family Life Center will open its doors at 1880 E. Ridge Road, Rochester. It will be owned and operated by Rochester’s St. Michael’s Family Protection Institute, which formerly was a ministry of Sacred Heart Cathedral but is now a 501(c)3 organization that operates independently from the Diocese of Rochester.

Kristan said that the Family Life Center’s mission is “to restore identifiably Catholic health care in the Rochester area.” The name of the clinic will change once New York state approves the name, she explained in an email.

Building donated for medical practice in the Catholic tradition

The office space for the clinic was purchased and donated in 2023 by James and Angie Harrison of Boise, Idaho. The 6,400-square-foot medical and professional office building will house the Family Life Center’s multiple providers.

James Harrison said that he and his wife are longtime friends of Kristan and her husband, Deacon Michael Kristan, and they were eager to encourage and support Kristan in founding the new center.

Kristan, who earned a medical degree from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree in theological studies from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, currently practices medicine in dementia care and women’s health.

Kristan also works for Gianna Medical of Central & Western New York, specializing in fertility care using restorative reproductive medicine. This practice will move to the Family Life Center, along with FertilityCare of Rochester and the Gianna Education Center, she said.

Kristan said she has felt called to help women dealing with infertility, as she herself does.

“Through my patients, my professional life, that’s one avenue I can live out my maternal vocation and spiritual motherhood,” she said.

Restorative reproductive medicine diagnoses and treats root causes

Kristan explained that restorative reproductive medicine fits with the Catholic stance on the sanctity of life and takes a different approach to women’s fertility health and wellness than the “mainstream medical approach.”

As the name implies, restorative reproductive medicine aims to find and treat root causes of reproductive pathologies to restore a body’s healthy state, rather than simply address symptoms, she said.

While some patients seeking restorative reproductive medicine reject hormonal contraception or suppressive therapies on moral grounds, she said others have ecological concerns or histories of negative reactions to hormone treatments.

Kristan said her goal is to educate her patients, referring to improving “health literacy” so that each patient can better “understand how her body is made … and live out her vocation as a woman.”

This holistic form of health care, which emphasizes compassion and the dignity of the human person, is trending, Deacon Kristan remarked.

“People are looking for personal health care rather than industrial health care,” he said, referring to the success of BellaHealth in Denver, Colo., and the JPII Life Center in Austin, Texas, both of which are following the model of personalized, restorative reproductive health care for women.

Catholic roots of health care renewed in Rochester

In fact, this model of personalized, compassionate health care reflects the historical beginnings of health care itself, according to Dr. Terry Lester, emergency physician at Finger Lakes Health who is serving as an adviser to draft the Family Life Center’s mission and vision statement. He said that the origins of taking care of the sick and dying were born from the mandate from Christ to take care of the poor, the weak and the disadvantaged.

While the Family Life Center is preparing to open its doors, several OB/GYN doctors have expressed interest in practicing there, and Kristan said she is still seeking to partner with primary care physicians, counselors and other aligned organizations.

Renovation work has begun with the help of Vargas Associates to design and transform the donated building into a space for multiple offices, exam rooms and even a place for prayer, Deacon Kristan said.

Kristan noted that the Family Life Center’s service to the Rochester community will far outlive herself and the other founders.

“This is God’s, and it belongs to Rochester,” she said.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the Family Life Center, contact Dr. Angela Kristan or Deacon Michael Kristan at coach@smfpi.org or call 585-633-0397.

Tags: Deacons, Health
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