Dr. David Gaus, MD, MPH and TM
Founder and Executive Director of Andean Health & Development
School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. David Gaus is the founder of Andean Health & Development (AHD) and has served as its Executive Director since 1994. He is also Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin.
Dr. Gaus grew up in Milwaukee, WI and attended Notre Dame where he received a BA in Accounting in 1984. After a soul-searching conversation with then University President, Theodore M. Hesburgh, Gaus traveled to Quito, Ecuador where he spent two years volunteering at The Working Boys Center. In Ecuador, he witnessed the marginalization of a population of mostly women and children who, he would later learn, lacked access to even basic health services.
Gaus’s life had changed forever. He returned to the United States where, with the assistance of Fr. Hesburgh and his friend and famous columnist Eppie Lederer, better known as “Ann Landers,” Gaus re-enrolled at Notre Dame to complete his studies in pre-med and then enrolled in Tulane Medical School.
In 1992, Gaus earned his M.D. and Master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University. He completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin Family Practice Residency Training, St. Luke’s Hospital.
Following his residency, Dr. Gaus returned to Ecuador. He soon realized that primary health care – prevention and health education – was the country’s greatest need. Soon after his arrival into the countryside, he was struck when a child died in his truck on a four-hour trip to Quito to get treatment for a snake bite. He realized then what the community had been telling him all along: We need a hospital.
In 1996, Dr. Gaus and Fr. Hesburgh started AHD to provide self-sustaining, comprehensive health care in poor, rural areas of Latin America. Their pilot project was building a hospital in the rural community of Pedro Vicente Maldonado. The hospital opened in 2000, and by 2007, was 100 percent financially self-sustainable. Hospital Pedro Vicente Maldonado serves a community of 80,000 and in addition to providing access to quality secondary health care, the hospital is a training ground for physicians, nurses, administrators and other leaders in the community.
Today, AHD is a non-governmental organization with a simple mission: improving health care in Latin America through building sustainable rural healthcare infrastructure. AHD’s model is providing sustainable, quality medical care today and through training, building capacity for tomorrow.
Dr. Gaus’ current project, opening the Hesburgh Hospital in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, is a big leap forward for AHD. AHD has built a global health research and training center that includes a simulation lab contextualized for rural Latin America and will serve as a headquarters for training sessions for the region’s public sector physicians. Hesburgh Hospital opened in June 2014.
Dr. Gaus has published in the area of healthcare policy for developing countries, and has served as a Temporary Expert for WHO in their expanded vision of Primary Health Care strategy.
Gaus is fluent in Spanish, and has been the focus of articles in the Notre Dame Magazine and Milwaukee Magazine. He is also the co-author of an article in the Pan American Health Journal titled Making secondary care a primary concern: the rural hospital in Ecuador.
Dr. Gaus lives in Madison, WI with his wife, Elizabeth, and his three bilingual, bicultural children.