Gootee Joins Medical Relief Trip to Haiti

Greg Gootee

Greg Gootee (MBA05) had volunteered domestically for various charitable organizations in the past, but a chance meeting on a flight opened the door for him to serve internationally in what is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

This summer, Gootee joined a team of 52 doctors, nurses, paramedics, medical students and nursing students on a six-day International Medical Relief trip to Haiti, a country that continues to feel the aftereffects of an earthquake that ravaged the island in 2010. A member of the medical staff, he took rotations in pharmacy, lab, triage, patient education and eye care, while also shadowing physicians and controlling patient flow into treatment areas. In all, the group saw more than 1,700 patients, treating them for everything from infections and wounds to hypertension and digestive diseases.

“While our time there was short, our team made an impact that you could see in the eyes of those who came to the clinics, especially the children,” Gootee says. “I have come to see how, in a country as devastated as Haiti, anyone who has an interest to help can help. As I have settled back to my daily work activities, I cannot help but wonder if there is a broader way to help that country.”

Gootee, a healthcare information technology specialist based in Lake Mary, Florida, learned about the opportunity from a medical student on a flight. The student was planning to travel to Africa with International Medical Relief and suggested Gootee check out the organization’s website. “Once home, I researched their company and, being from Florida, thought that helping out the folks of Haiti would be a good choice,” he says.

Among the stops in Haiti was an orphanage where the team assisted more than 350 patients, including about 100 small school children. In addition to performing check-ups for every one of the orphans, Gootee and the other visitors played with and cuddled the children. Several were treated for a fungal infection, and the team’s respiratory therapist gave treatments to a number of students with asthma. One 15-year-old girl who had a pebble stuck in her right ear for five years had the rock removed.

Gootee is convinced he was impacted as much – or more so – than the hundreds of people he served.

“I traveled to help others in need; instead, what I found was the impact to my own life was far greater,” he says. “The trip was one of the most humbling, exhausting and rewarding things I have done. I am so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity. No matter what your skills are, you can make an impact on others.”