by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “I really view the patient as a whole person,” said Dr. Angeliqué Pritchett. “It’s more than just the physical — emotional, spiritual, and social all combine into overall health and well-being.”
In her daily practice as a physician at Living Water Family Care in Kansas City, Kan., Pritchett strives to provide comprehensive care to her patients. Her holistic view of patients sets her apart from many of her peers in a field where physical symptoms alone are often the only ones addressed.
“There are so many things that affect a person’s physical health,” said Pritchett, who is a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Kansas City, Mo. “A good example is a person who is depressed. There’s the physical component of decreased neurotransmitters in the brain that can be treated with medicine, but there’s also a social, emotional and spiritual component as well.”
In a situation where a patient may need assistance beyond what her medical training can provide — counseling, for example — Pritchett will generally refer a patient on to a specialized practitioner.
As part of her holistic philosophy, Pritchett refuses to prescribe any artificial contraceptives to her patients, because she views them as harmful to a person’s health.
“I strongly believe that if you’re using something that takes away from the unitive and procreative aspects of sex, then you’re slowly disintegrating the whole purpose behind sex in the first place, and that’s going to jeopardize your relationship,” said Pritchett.
Many times, Pritchett has had patients come in asking for contraception, not knowing her position on the issue. She will provide them with medical care and support as needed — but without prescribing contraceptives.
“I usually say, ‘OK, you don’t know this about me, but I don’t prescribe artificial contraception and here’s why,’” said Pritchett.
“When you come to see me as a physician, you and your health are my primary focus — your physical, emotional and spiritual health. If I do something that’s going to slowly disintegrate your marriage, that’s not something I want to be a part of,” she said.
Aside from the spiritual and emotional consequences of artificial contraception, said Pritchett, the physical risks are not to be minimized. Both the pill and Depo-Provera are accompanied by multiple side effects that fill up literally pages of the “Physicians Desk Reference.”
“Medications with far fewer side effects have been pulled off the market,” said Pritchett.
“So strictly from a physical perspective — from the side effects these medications cause — I don’t want to subject my patients to that,” she added.
Although Pritchett said she has occasionally dealt with patients angry with her for not prescribing birth control, most patients appreciate her candor even if they disagree.
“The response I love to get is, ‘No one has ever told me this before about the pill or Depo-Provera. Why hasn’t someone brought this up?’ It sparks something in that person to learn more about the church’s teaching, or natural family planning, being open to life,” said Pritchett.
For patients who have reason to space or postpone pregnancy, Pritchett encourages natural family planning and will often refer patients to local instructors. She has extensive training in the Creighton model of natural family planning and NaPro technology, which also enables her to assist families struggling with infertility or other reproduc- tive problems, such as irregular menstruation, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, recurring ovarian cysts, and progesterone deficiency.
When patients come in to see Pritchett complaining of a problem like irregular cycles, she will often encourage them to start charting the woman’s cycles.
“I realized there was so much more to natural family planning than achieving and avoiding a pregnancy. There’s a whole area of medicine where you can have patients chart their cycles and evaluate and treat health problems,” said Pritchett.
Pritchett’s journey to becoming an NFP-only doctor began in medical school, when a colleague asked her what she was planning to do about ar- tificial contraception as a doctor. At the time, Pritchett had not given the issue much thought and was unsure what she would do when the issue arose.
“My friend gave me a copy of ‘Humanae Vitae’ [Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on marred love and procreation]. So I read it, and the rest is history,” said Pritchett. “After I read it, there was just no question this was what God was calling me to do.”