Cherry Hill physician joins Catholic Relief Services in Haiti

CHERRY HILL — “Many of the problems in Haiti are caused by a lack of education for the people, a lack of motivation on their part, and a lack of role models,” said anesthesiologist Dr. Gouda Goudra.

The Cherry Hill resident, who works at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, recently spent nine days in the earthquake-devastated country.

“I spent my vacation there,” he said. “I went under the sponsorship of Catholic Relief Services.” He was the only one from the University of Pennsylvania to go to Haiti but he joined members of the Shock Trauma Center of Baltimore and, together, they performed more than 60 surgeries.

“The Shock Trauma Center, as far as I know, is the only exclusive trauma hospital in the country,” Goudra said. “We performed many thigh and leg surgeries, some general surgery, and one amputation.”

Goudra pointed out that Haiti has been considered the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere for many years and how it would pull itself together remains to be seen.

“It’s extremely tough,” he said. “This earthquake has affected lives that have already experienced hardship.”

Goudra said he and his group were housed in a former Catholic hospital. Most of the buildings collapsed and, although there were two buildings that were partially unaffected, general wards and surgical wards were setup outside in tents.

The doctor noted that Catholic Relief Services is expected to be in Haiti for at least the next two years. And the organization hopes to rebuild the hospital in the same location and make it a regional facility.

“I might go again in six months,” he said.

A native of India, Goudra received his anesthesiology training in England and Ireland before coming to America.

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