Dr. Doug Gugger has started practicing advanced pain medicine at the Pennsylvania Spine and Pain Institute in Quakertown. Board-certified and fellowship-trained at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Gugger knows the ins and outs of helping his patients to find relief. But it’s Gugger’s former life that makes him the kind of doctor he is today. Its a service track record not experienced by most.
The orders came July 2009.
Gugger, of Montgomery County, had just returned to the area after training as a flight surgeon in Pensacola, Fla. He and his wife, Amy, were thrilled when they learned Doug would be stationed as the last command at NASJRB Willow Grove. Furthermore, the couple was in the midst of adopting a baby from Ethiopia and they were happy to ret urn home to anxiouslyawait his arrival.
The couple were home just one month when the orders were issued. Gugger would deploy for 390 days, or about 13 months. Four months would be spent training in Indiana and then nine months at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Kalagush located in the Nuristan region of Afghanistan – a remote, tribal area tucked away in the Hindu Kush mountains on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The base was small, only about 100 soldiers. It would include Army members, Air National Guard and Navy medical personnel.
The mission: rebuild roads and areas taken out by the Taliban; welcome locals onto the U.S. base to treat wounds; walk through villages and meet with elders – and try to win over hearts and minds before the Taliban did.
One month before his departure in October 2009, the Guggers saw their baby’s photo for the first time – a boy, 10 weeks old and waiting for them in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Shockingly, Amy Gugger found out she was pregnant the same day.
Then Doug Gugger left, not to return for almost 400 hundred days. He deployed Oct. 10, 2009 and returned Nov. 16, 2010, returning home for two weeks in between – one week in December 2009 to meet their son and one week in May 2010 to witness the birth of their daughter.
Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, Gugger had his hands full taking care of children far more in need than his own. He cared for kids wrecked by explosions and accidents, men mauled by IEDs, elderly people dying of cancer and unable to find any relief because they had nothing.
“At the end of the day, we are all human,” Gugger said. “If I’m leaving my wife for a year and two new babies, you better believe I’m gonna do what I went there to do – help suffering people find relief.”
Fast forward seven years. Gugger has just joined forces with two other Ivy League trained physicians, Dr. David Qu and Dr. Robert Kelly of Highpoint Pain and Rehabilitation Physicians of Chalfont. Together, the three now practice under one name – the Pennsylvania Pain & Spine Institute.
When asked why they decided to join forces with Gugger, Qu said, “I’ve known Doug for several years and I know the high regard leaders in our field have for him at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s an excellent doctor with an esteemed track record of compassion and service. He is exactly the type of physician we want to help grow our practice and represent our values. We want to extend the high quality of care that we strive for in Chalfont, and Doug is the perfect physician to carry on our values in Quakertown. Additionally, the name, Pennsylvania Spine and Pain Institute, better represents the extent of our reach and breadth of our services.”
Dr. Gugger sees patients in The Atrium building in Quakertown. Kelly and Qu see patients in the Highpoint Medical Building in Chalfont.