Dr. Adam C. Levine was recently honored as the inaugural recipient of the Global Emergency Medicine Academy’s Humanitarian Service Award. Levine is an emergency physician at Rhode Island Hospital and an assistant professor at Brown University’s medical school. His award recognizes his commitment to serving distressed countries, primarily as a volunteer physician with International Medical Corps. During the last few years, he has worked in Haiti, Libya and Sudan, providing clinical care, running a trauma field hospital and managing a medical clinic. He holds an M.D. from University of California, San Francisco and master’s of public health from the University of California, Berkeley.
PBN: As a physician, what’s it like to volunteer with International Medical Corps?
LEVINE: Volunteering with International Medical Corps in Haiti, Libya and South Sudan over the past several years has led to some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have had since becoming a physician. I feel really lucky to have the public health and medical skills, not to mention a flexible career and supportive family, that allow me the opportunities to have a meaningful, positive impact on the lives of people affected by disaster and conflict worldwide.
PBN: What are the biggest obstacles that distressed countries face in providing quality medical care?
LEVINE: During disasters and conflict situations, roads, power lines, aqueducts, homes and hospitals are often destroyed, leaving whole populations without access to the basic elements needed to sustain life, such as food, water, shelter and medicine. International humanitarian organizations are often the only entities available to provide adequate support for populations that have been devastated by disaster and conflict – at least in the short-term until government and local, private services can be restored.
PBN: Was there a particular experience that fostered your interest in helping those abroad?
LEVINE: As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I had grown up hearing the mantra “never again,” fully believing that humanity had progressed to a point where genocide … would never again be tolerated. Watching the dual genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia during high school and college, though, made me realize … how much work remained to be done for the victims of humanitarian crises. I felt a powerful need to contribute in some way. •