A new healthcare website hopes to link together Catholic patients and healthcare providers in order to address the cultural challenges facing Catholics around the country. “There’s more to being Catholic … than simply, 'we don't use birth control,” Dr. Greg Bottaro, PsyD, said to CNA July 7, of how the faith affects participation in the healthcare industry. “There’s an integration between our faith and our professional life as a healthcare provider where we treat the person differently from the start.” Bottaro is the founder of WellCatholic, a website he hopes will link Catholic patients with doctors who uphold Catholic values in their health practices across all medical disciplines. “We’re created to be a resource for Catholics to find Catholic providers,” Bottaro said, “and at the same time, it’s a resource for Catholic providers to be recognized and supported for practicing according to Catholic values.” He said that while working as a Catholic psychologist in New York he was struck by how many people would ask for recommendations for Catholic doctors elsewhere in the country. These conversations led him to realize “there’s definitely a huge demand for healthcare” that respects a patient’s beliefs, as well as those of their health provider. “Story after story came in saying that there were so many ways that not having that faith in common really hurt the care they were receiving,” Bottaro said. This shared faith, he continued, is an important factor “especially when you’re in your most vulnerable state. It hurts that much deeper when your faith is called into question and you’re belittled or degraded because of it” in these situations, he continued. While there are already some services that list Catholic doctors and other health providers, Bottaro said, they are typically not user-friendly and are intended for a small number of people, rather than marketed to the public. By focusing on linking the public and healthcare professionals in an online community, Bottaro said he hoped WellCatholic could “become a Catholic household name” that Catholics go to when they need a doctor. However, for the venture to be most successful, communities on the ground need to help build WellCatholic as an online community — specifically in spreading the word among doctors and patients. “If people really love the vision and feel like they would benefit from this, we really need grassroots support,” Bottaro said. “Right now we’re just getting started, so there’s definitely a need for community support behind this.”
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