Divine Mercy Care

Deal W. Hudson
October 5, 2009

“Put us head to head with any Planned Parenthood clinic, and people will choose us.” Dr. John Bruchalski, an OB/GYN in Fairfax, Virginia, told me how his Divine Mercy Care organization can transform national health care. DMC presently consists of an obstetrics and gynecology facility, the Tepeyac Family Center, and the DMC Pharmacy, opened almost a year ago.

Dr. Bruchalski has become a much-beloved Catholic physician in northern Virginia since he and his wife, Carolyn, a registered nurse, started the practice in their basement in 1993. The Tepeyac Family Center, with six NFP-only physicians and one nurse practitioner, is the largest pro-life OB/GYN practice of its kind in the nation.

Bruchalski’s vision of pro-life medical care goes beyond the rejection of abortion and contraception as medical options. He was emphatic when he told me, “I have to see the underserved in my daily life.” As a result, Tepeyac is the largest provider of obstetric services to Medicaid patients in northern Virginia.

DMC has three pillars, according to Bruchalski: to offer excellent medicine, serve the underserved, and make daily use of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. These commitments grew out of Bruchalski’s own conversion from conventional obstetrics as a medical student and resident.

I asked what changed his view of medicine. “We were taught to believe that fertility could be controlled and would lead to happiness,” he said, “but my experience changed my mind. Just the opposite was the case: diseases were becoming epidemic; relationships broke up; women using contraceptives were being hurt by being subjected to men – all leading to sadness, depression, and loss of libido.”

It was a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe that enabled him to see what was happening to women. Standing at the back of the shrine, waiting to see the image, he heard an interior voice say, “Why are you hurting me?” He says he didn’t understand it at the time but recalls, “It was a very feminine voice, very kind and understanding, but very direct.” After he returned to school, Bruchalski realized it was the voice of the Blessed Mother.

Later, on a trip to Medjugorje, he met a young woman from Belgium who gave him a list of 50 things that would come to pass in his life. Forty-five of them have happened, including starting a new practice and creating a new paradigm for health care.

The new paradigm, first of all, means spending more time with patients. “We utilize a holistic approach because many physical ailments are due to relational issues. That involves time spent listening to patients, praying with them, and helping them to find the resources they need. We have learned that suffering is not there to be fought, but to be utilized to realize what it means to be human: an opportunity to move outside of yourself.”

“This is the way to true renewal in health care – not handing it over to the government to administer,” Bruchalski explained. “Government programs are not the way to go; they will remove the doctor from the patient and threaten personal liberty.” He insists that the community is the best place to provide medical care, where “judgment stays in the hands of patients and doctors.”

Given the additional time spent with patients, the service provided to the underserved, and the decreasing reimbursement by insurance companies, DMC has switched to a non-profit business model. “In medicine today, if you try to do it fee-for-service, in certain specialties it is very difficult to make money,” says Bruchalski. With an ongoing direct mail campaign and a very popular annual gala, on November 14 this year, DMC has kept its head above the water. But their DMC Pharmacy is in particular need of greater support in the form of more customers.

Tucked away in a shopping center in Chantilly, Virginia, the pharmacy is run by Robert Sembler, a veteran pharmacist who ran his own pro-life drug store before coming to DMC. Just before its opening, the pharmacy was attacked by the Washington Post for not selling contraceptives and, in particular, the Plan B “emergency” contraceptive.

Sembler hopes that pro-lifers and Catholics will realize the importance of using the DMC Pharmacy for their prescriptions, even if the store is not conveniently located for them. He showed me how anyone could fill in a form online, or over the phone, and have his or her prescriptions mailed to the home for a small fee. (I signed up on the spot.)

Dr. Bruchalski wants the work of DMC to grow, not merely survive. With the more financial support, he could hire some of the many physicians who have contacted him saying they want to work in a pro-life practice. New physicians would bring in additional patients, which would get Tepeyac to the point of breaking even; 400 new customers at the pharmacy would do the same.

As I began wrapping up the interview, Dr. Bruchalski stopped me – the evangelist in him insisted on making one point, and it was a powerful summary of what Divine Mercy Care represents.

“We cannot always take a pill to get rid of a medical problem. The body and the soul are unified, but science has divorced them. The growth of the alternative medicine industry shows that people are seeking a relationship with their physician. Being a physician is more than being a technician, more than being a dispenser of medicine. It is a vocation.”

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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