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Alumna Uses OB-GYN Practice to Honor Sanctity of Life
2/10/2016

There’s a consultation room in alumna Jamie Gautreau Hernandez’s OB-GYN clinic that she calls her room of tears. The tears belong to patients who come to the clinic with reproductive health concerns, and find themselves overwhelmed by unexpected relief, gratitude or hope.

That’s because Hernandez and her two partners at Caritas Women’s Care strive to consistently honor “the dignity of womanhood and the sanctity of human life” in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church

Jamie Gautreau Hernandez 05

Jamie Gautreau Hernandez ’05

For Hernandez, a 2005 University of St. Thomas chemistry graduate, that means treating clients as an integrated physical, emotional and spiritual whole, and approaching their fertility as a wondrously intricate gift.

For patients dogged by persistent health issues such as endometriosis, infertility or PMS, the experience at Caritas is often empowering, even exhilarating, Hernandez said; whereas “secular clinics might just offer birth control,” Caritas encourages their clients to monitor their fertility with sophisticated tools such as NaProTECHNOLOGY and the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, a holistic approach helps identify the underlying causes of reproductive concerns.

For Hernandez, working at Caritas is a dream come true.

“I always wanted to be a pro-life physician,” she said. “It’s really God’s providence that I’m here.”

'UST was Instrumental'

Although Hernandez majored in chemistry, it was UST’s Catholic Studies program that first caught the Louisiana native’s eye. The program, she said, seemed like an optimal way to integrate her dual loves—faith and science. Hernandez graduated with minors in both Catholic Studies and theology.

“UST was instrumental,” Hernandez said.  “It definitely laid a foundation, an ethical and theological foundation.”

Sister Paula Jean Miller, FSE, the founder and former director of Catholic Studies, supported Hernandez's pursuits.

“She helped me develop in so many different ways,” Hernandez said. “I definitely credit a large part of my success to her, because of her mentoring.”

Pre-Med Program Provided Supportive Friendships, Network

UST’s Pre-Med Program, moreover, was “super helpful,” Hernandez said. In addition to providing stellar academic instruction and mentorship (she particularly credits chemistry professor John Palasota), the program helped her forge lasting friendships that sustained her through medical school and residency, and a wide medical network that still swaps patient referrals and professional support.

“It’s all about who you know,” Hernandez said.

That “who” includes her husband, Juan Pablo ’05, whom she met at an ice cream social hosted by Campus Ministry. The couple has been married five years and has three children.

Discerning God’s Call

UST’s influence didn’t end when Hernandez enrolled in medical school at the University of Texas-Houston. Sister Damien Marie Savino, another Franciscan sister and the chair of UST’s Environmental Science and Studies Department, took Hernandez “under her wing” during Hernandez’s third year at UT.

Sister Damien Marie’s spiritual guidance became a lifeline. Hernandez was powerfully drawn to obstetrical gynecology after her rotation, but the specialty posed a dilemma for the devout Catholic. Since her faith precluded prescribing contraceptives, participating in sterilizations or offering artificial reproductive technology, Hernandez knew she would need extended training in medical and surgical techniques compatible with Catholic teaching.

“I wanted to be able to offer state-of-the-art infertility care while still maintaining my morality,” she said.

As Hernandez weighed her choices, Sister Damien Marie helped her solidify how to listen to God’s call. She subsequently completed her residency at the University of Illinois, and accepted a fellowship in medical and surgical NaProTECHNOLOGY training at Omaha’s Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction/Creighton University.

“It became clear in our conversation that her heart was in becoming an OB-GYN,” Sister Damien Marie explained. “Jamie is a very talented and giving person, and I think God was calling her to this profession.”

With the 'Eyes of Christ'

Last summer, Hernandez joined the team at Caritas Women’s Care in Sugar Land, where all three partners completed fellowships in NaProTECHNOLOGY at the Pope Paul VI Institute and have committed themselves to providing authentically Catholic reproductive care and education, a care that means seeing with the “eyes of Christ.”

At Caritas, that love forms the core of Hernandez’s work.

“Doing all these things, I feel like I’m truly living out my calling, truly serving women,” she said.

By Marion Fernandez-Cueto