This year, Andean Health and Development (AHD) celebrates 20 years of providing health care to rural Ecuador. AHD is an organization started in 1994 by Chief Executive Officer Dr. David Gaus ‘84 and Founding Chair Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. On campus, Hesburgh’s Heroes is a student-run club that fundraises and raises awareness for AHD among the Notre Dame student body.
AHD’s story began when Gaus went to Fr. Hesburgh after deciding not to pursue a career in accounting. Instead, Gaus travelled to Ecuador, where he spent two years volunteering at an orphanage. Upon returning to Notre Dame, Gaus completed a degree in pre-medical studies and enrolled in medical school at Tulane University. After graduating, Gaus and Fr. Hesburgh founded AHD together.
From there, the organization has opened two hospitals in rural Ecuador: the Pedro Vicente Maldonado hospital and clinics, which has been running for 17 years, and the newer Hesburgh Hospital in Santo Domingo.
The hospitals serve as sustainable models that can be replicated in other communities. The organization offers a family medicine residency program that trains rural physicians who will later serve their communities. All facilities are operated solely by Ecuadorians.
The Hesburgh’s Heroes club organizes key fundraising events for AHD each year, including a bubble soccer tournament, tailgates, bike rides and events on Notre Dame Day.
Juan Esteban Baus, class of ’19, is co-president of Hesburgh’s Heroes with Pete McKeon, whose brother Jack started the club.
Baus elaborated on how the club has impacted his desire to become a doctor: “The opportunity to work in the refugee camps was life changing. I had always loved medicine and science over other subjects, but that was really a wake up call of the reality of disparity in different countries,” he said. Hesburgh’s Heroes solidified Baus’ commitment to medicine and to bridging the income gap in the quality and availability of health care.