Serving the poor in Ecuador

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Renee Peggs | February 18, 2018

As a senior, David Gaus ’84 had a crisis moment when he realized he didn’t want to be an accountant. So he did what any sensible Notre Dame student would do, and scheduled a meeting with Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., the University’s president. 

It led to a service opportunity in Ecuador and ultimately put him on the path to where he is today: training self-sufficient physicians to serve patients in rural communities across the country. 

Gaus and Father Hesburgh exchanged many letters from Ecuador those two years, during which Gaus decided to go into medicine so he could return to Ecuador as a doctor. Money was going to be a problem, though, because Gaus could not afford the two extra years of Notre Dame tuition he needed to complete prerequisites for medical school.

But Father Hesburgh’s friend Ann Landers provided financial assistance and arranged for a full ride to Tulane Medical School, which was the only university at the time offering a concurrent master’s program in public health and tropical medicine for medical students.

So Gaus finished school and residency, taught at the university level for two years, and ultimately fulfilled his dream of going back to Ecuador. Father Hesburgh helped him set up the organization that would change healthcare opportunities for thousands of Ecuadorians. 

Initially, Gaus himself opened a small clinic offering family medicine services, but after feasibility studies and years of on-the-ground research, Andean Health & Development has two hospitals and Ecuador’s only rural family medicine residency program.

Read more here.

Originally published by Daily Domer Staff at on February 18, 2018.