By JOANNE FOX
Lisa Willis became the director of Mercy FertilityCare Services in 2012. She left the hospital setting in 2016 to be a stay-at-home mom.
This June the office moved to Mary’s Choice, a Sioux City pregnancy care center.
According to Sherrill Glassmaker, executive director of Mary’s Choice, “We knew from the moment we were asked (about including the program) that the spiritual component was a match made in heaven for us, for them and for the people they serve and the people we serve.”
The FertilityCare program operates out of two rooms of the center, Glassmaker explained.
“It has been a transition that we are all so very thankful for,” she said. “We are now in a position to recommend to those we serve that they may want to seek information on Natural Family Planning from an expert.”
Willis earned a bachelor of science in nursing degree, prior to her marriage to husband Ryan in 2006. She earned a certificate to become a FertilityCare practitioner in 2008.
“I always knew that I wanted to use some sort of NFP once I was married,” she added. “There are side effects to artificial contraceptives that I didn’t want to deal with, in addition to it being immoral according to the church’s teachings.”
Creighton Model System
Willis noted it was a “total coincidence” that she came upon the Creighton Model System.
“I didn’t really know there were multiple methods of NFP out there,” she said. “Once Ryan and I became engaged, my mom advised that I just call the local hospitals to see if they had any NFP instructors available to teach.”
Willis chose to call Mercy Medical Center and was connected with long-time NFP instructors, Donna Vondrak and Mary Egan, who taught the Creighton Model.
“In hindsight, I’m grateful that we had been instructed in the Creighton Model System,” she said. “It was easy to use and track my cycles despite my crazy schedule. I was also impressed with the added medical component of NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology which incorporates the Creighton Model). It has helped stabilize my hormones and prevent me from miscarrying or going into preterm labor during my pregnancies.”
Willis pointed out the Creighton Model can be used to either avoid (96.8 percent use effectiveness rate) or achieve (98 percent success rate if done by six months of charting) pregnancy. Lisa and Ryan have three children.
“It can also be an excellent women’s health tool,” she said. “It is so important for women to understand how their bodies work and be able to notice early on when they may not be functioning properly.”
It is Willis’ hope that FertilityCare Services and Mary’s Choice will become more visible to all women within the community.
“We want to help couples plan their families in addition to referring women who struggle with infertility, postpartum depression and other women’s health issues to physicians in our community that are trained in NaProTechnology so that they can receive proper treatment without the use of the pill or artificial fertility treatments,” said the parishioner of St. Joseph Church, Salix.
Joining Willis will be Elizabeth Wessling, who works as a physician assistant at the Siouxland Community Health Center and became a FertilityCare Practitioner in 2017. Wessling and her husband Mark have two children and are parishioners at Sacred Heart in Sioux City.
“Our goals for FertilityCare Services is to not only teach women and couples once they become engaged, but to start educating them at a younger age,” Willis said. “We hope to ‘plant the seed’ in an age-appropriate manner on the beauty of NFP and the importance of valuing our fertility for the gift that it truly is.”
Glassmaker was happy that the two entities would be working together.
“We are able to graciously offer them the space to operate out of at no cost to them,” she said. “They, in turn, are able to help with volunteer work on occasion and still run the program they had been running all along without a disruption in service and just a change in location.”
Glassmaker added, “We love that others can use the building to help build God’s Kingdom on earth and in keeping with our pro-life mission and service to others.”
Willis will continue to see clients by appointment and be available for speaking events throughout the diocese.
To contact Willis directly, call (712) 251-4427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Wessling may be emailed at email@example.com.
Mary’s Choice may be reached by calling (712) 274-6279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.