This is the first post in a series we will be sharing about the various Guiding Star Centers. We hope that these pieces will shine a light on the incredible work the Guiding Star Project is doing across our country and illustrate our revolutionary vision for the future of women’s healthcare.
Ana Hidalgo Stooks is the Executive Director of Guiding Star Tampa, the flagship women’s healthcare clinic of the Guiding Star Project (GSP). I had the privilege of interviewing her for our blog’s new profile series and was overwhelmed by her expertise, energy, and most of all, joy. Ana overflows with joy.
Ana Hidalgo Stooks (left) celebrating with the staff of GS Tampa after receiving a Florida Healthcare Clinic License
Before Ana’s clinic affiliated with GSP, it was a traditional pregnancy resource center that offered pregnancy testing, limited obstetrical ultrasounds, and an Earn While You Learn Program with a baby boutique where moms could get maternity clothes, diapers, wipes, baby clothes, and larger baby items. They also sponsored a post-abortive healing ministry. Ana knew it was time to take the center to the next level and join with the emerging GSP when they invited Abby Johnson to speak at their annual gala. During her talk, Abby explained how it is time for the pro-life movement to move beyond the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy and into a more complete vision of holistic healthcare. Ana was thrilled to find an organization that would help her continue to bring holistic, natural women’s healthcare to her community while becoming a part of a new movement. Since their affiliation, to say GS Tampa has become a beacon of light in a culture of confusing, troubling, and disrespectful “healthcare” is an understatement.
“Healthcare that upholds the dignity of women” is Ana’s goal. When women walk through her doors, she doesn’t label them according to the services they need or the struggles they face; instead, she gets to know them as complete individuals and supports them however she can. And the list of ways she can support them is long! When the center affiliated with GSP, it grew from a 2,000 sq. ft. facility to a 4,700 sq. ft. stand alone building that was more centrally located, helping more women find and access the clinic. GS Tampa established partnerships with the Department of Health resources, Healthy Start and Healthy Families, WIC, local Creighton FertilityCare practitioners, Couple to Couple League instructors, doulas, lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, postpartum specialists, the St. Joseph Women’s Hospital education department and the Wildflowers healing ministry.
GS Tampa now offers annual physicals, pap smears, gynecology exams, natural family planning education, ultrasounds, obstetric care, NaProTechnology infertility care, abortion pill reversal resources, postpartum care, diverse parenting education classes and support, healing for a wide variety of struggles, and so much more. (Not to mention their complimentary child care, weekly massage appointments, and art as therapy. The future of women’s healthcare is bright, y’all.) Another bright light at Guiding Star Tampa is their Ob-Gyn nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife, Tammy Taylor, ARNP, CNM. In Ana’s words, “without Tammy, Guiding Star Tampa would not exist. Finding an Ob-Gyn practitioner who is pro-life will always be the hardest thing for a center to find.”
One of the most innovative developments at GS Tampa is their creative billing structure. With so much uncertainty in healthcare and insurance these days, it’s an exciting time to create affordable ways to get quality care. GS Tampa has partnered with the state of Florida to provide free well-woman care to women over 18 who do not have Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance through the Florida Women’s Wellness Support Services Program (FWWSSP). The State of Florida directly reimburses GS Tampa for providing these services. The clinic has also applied to be a Medicaid and private insurance provider. GS Tampa also has a very reasonable self-pay fee structure and uses the National sliding scale fee structure. Some of their patients have only paid $15 for a physical based on their income. It is worth paying out of pocket to be able to see a practitioner who is totally supportive of natural family planning and encourages one to seek natural and holistic options. In Ana’s words, “We are all about supporting a woman’s body and treasuring the gift that our body is versus suppressing it with chemicals and other products that aren’t meant to be in our bodies.”
Ana looks forward to the future. She hopes to bring additional practitioners to GS Tampa and even dreams of adding a birthing center. When I asked Ana if she had any advice for people who are considering opening a GS center, she responded, “Patience and perseverance! The last year has been quite an exciting and challenging time for us as we embarked on our journey of becoming a medical health care clinic. Caste the vision! Get people passionate for providing healthcare that upholds the dignity of women. Women deserve Guiding Star centers–a place to receive natural, holistic and whole life medical services, education, and ongoing support.” Cheers to that, Ana!
Ana’s prayer life is a perfect illustration of how she manages her role as Executive Director of Guiding Star Tampa: Ana no longer prays to end abortion; instead, she prays that everyone will embrace life. This is not a shift of values, but rather, a shift of attitude. Perhaps this is part of the secret behind Ana’s joy!
For readers interested in learning more about Guiding Star Tampa and the incredible work they do, please visit their website at: https://guidingstartampa.org/.