St. Gianna Molla medical clinic to open June 29

By Sean Schultz | The Compass | June 18, 2015

Green Bay clinic is first in U.S. named after Italian saint

GREEN BAY — St. Gianna Molla will be the namesake and the inspiration behind a new medical clinic that will open June 29 across from its partner, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center. Its target audience: all who seek “truly faithful Catholic medical care from conception and birth through end-of-life care.”

Dr. Robin Goldsmith, medical director of the new St. Gianna Molla Clinic in Green Bay, is pictured June 12 in the clinic office. The facility will be blessed and dedicated by Bishop David Ricken on June 25 and open its doors on June 29.  (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Dr. Robin Goldsmith, medical director of the new St. Gianna Molla Clinic in Green Bay, is pictured June 12 in the clinic office. The facility will be blessed and dedicated by Bishop David Ricken on June 25 and open its doors on June 29. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

That’s according to Dr. Robin Goldsmith, co-founder, president and chair of the board of the new St. Gianna Molla Guild of Northeastern Wis. She is also the clinic’s medical director, as well as chair of the board of the St. Gianna Molla Clinic. And she’s an anesthesiologist trained in obstetrics.

Goldsmith has spent recent months taking steps toward opening the clinic with its natural family planning focus in a 1,300-square-foot space, located at 1727 Shawano Ave., with potential for expansion. First step, though, was to get the clinic plan approved by Bishop David Ricken. “He immediately was up for it,” she recalled. “Everything we do has to be under the guidance of Bishop Ricken.”

Goldsmith is married to Dr. Paul Utrie, an Allouez native and rheumatologist at Orthopedic Sports Medicine Specialists of Green Bay. She is a deeply religious woman who advocates for the pro-life cause. That’s at the heart of her devotion to one of the world’s newest Catholic saints.

The canonization of St. Gianna Molla on May 16, 2004, was the first of its kind for a woman physician and professional who was also a “working mom.”

Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian wife, mother, geriatric physician and pro-life witness, was canonized by Pope John Paul II.

St. Gianna made a heroic choice to allow her fourth child to be born, even after being told she should undergo an abortion or die in her effort to give birth. Early in that pregnancy, she compromised her own health when she underwent surgery to remove a uterine tumor while she was pregnant.

She and her husband, Pietro Molla, had earlier welcomed their children, Pierluigi, in 1956, Mariolina, in 1957, and Laura in 1959.

Gianna died one week after her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, arrived on April 21, 1962, via Caesarean section. The young mother had severe pain and died of septic peritonitis a week later on April 28, 1962. She was just 39 years old. The Green Bay clinic will be the first in the nation to bear her name.

Goldsmith, born in Ohio, moved with her family to Sheboygan when she was 8.

“I’m a cradle Catholic,” she noted. “My grandparents led the rosary at daily Mass for decades. I was brought up with that. We always went to church. And we were always pro-life.” She attended college at the University of Notre Dame where “everyone was pro-life and went to Mass.”

From there she entered the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine where she met her husband-to-be who was also in medical school there. They married in her fourth year of medical school, his third year.

Next she attended the University of Iowa at Iowa City for her residency and then for her OB anesthesiology fellowship training. She was also on the faculty there.

The couple has four sons ages nine to 23. Their oldest will enter the Mundelein Seminary (also known as St. Mary of the Lake University) in Mundelein, Ill., in the fall.

The natural family planning clinic will be a new concept to Green Bay, although natural family planning techniques have been around for a long time. Goldsmith said better training of patients and providers today allows an 80 to 90 percent success rate of getting pregnant. “It’s groundbreaking and completely in line with the new clinic,” she added.

Several meetings took place with St. Mary’s Hospital officials who are partners in the clinic project, providing the startup funds and support. The clinic will be non-profit. Contracts were signed in February. “It will be a Catholic teaching clinic that will provide excellent medical care that’s truly faithful,” Goldsmith said. “For patients and families who want to know, we will teach them.”

Board members thus far include Bishop Ricken, Greg Simia, CFO of Hospital Sisters Health System – Eastern Wisconsin Region; and Bob Atwell, CEO of Nicolet National Bank.

Natural family planning is acceptable by the Catholic Church while fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy are not. Patients in the new clinic will be trained in fertility awareness — when a woman is more fertile. It involves no chemicals or physical devices and has no physical side effects.

Goldsmith will provide anesthesiology services at the hospital and in the clinic. “I love what I have been doing” as an anesthesiologist at several hospitals in the Fox Valley, she said. “But I feel called to go in this direction.” She noted, too, that traditional medical school training gave a miniscule amount of focus on natural family planning.

Goldsmith has hired the first clinic physician and his wife. Dr. Scott Stillwell had relocated his family practice to Green Bay and his wife, Cynthia, a registered nurse, will assist the staff.

Goldsmith and 30 people from the local St. Gianna Molla Guild will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass. That thrills Goldsmith, but she also had another reason to be there.

Guild members will attend a private gathering with St. Gianna’s daughter, Gianna Emanuela — that fourth child — who will also take part in the larger event. “Her mom died so that she could live,” Goldsmith marveled. “Imagine to be able to meet with a living child of a saint!”

Goldsmith plans to spread the word about the new clinic by going into the communities here — the schools, parishes and professional organizations — “to let people know why we’re different and explain our faith.

“The time is now for raising awareness. This clinic is a response to what’s happening in our culture. People want something different. Whatever faith they have — any faith or no faith — will be respected.”

 

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