Dr. Mark Levie brings experience (and family) to Rwanda
Dr. Mark Levie is a board certified physician specializing in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and this summer he is going to Rwanda. With him he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, a spirit of giving and most important of all, some of his family.
As part of a joint initiative between Einstein and the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) Dr. Levie will join others representing major US academic institutions who have partnered with the Rwandan government to augment local health care and assist in the building of infrastructure through the training of residents in Rwandan hospitals.
Dr. Levie will begin his 10 week stint July 2nd in Kigali, the capital city and site of the Rwandan Genocide 20 years ago. From there he will move on to the city of Butare about an hour and a half south of the capital. He will be working in two of the premiere hospitals in Rwanda. This will not be trench medicine but at the same time Rwandan hospitals are a far cry from the facilities we are used to. While we bemoan the selection of cable channels offered and the quality of hospital food; Rwandan patients receive no food at all, or even linens provided by their facility.
This is where Dr. Levie’s daughters come into the picture. Two of his three girls, ages 17 and 19 will be coming for portions of his trip staying 2 ½ and 3 ½ weeks respectively. Their time will be spent volunteering with patient outreach programs designed to bring food and linens to patients who would otherwise be dependent on family that may be some distance away, if they are fortunate enough to have any. The relatively small medical community in Rwanda is based on referring the most serious cases to these advanced centers from wherever in the country they come. While most of us enjoy a first class medical facility in our area, if not several, the Rwandan people must travel for quality care.
Dr. Levie stressed how proud he is of his daughters for their willingness to get involved. They were the ones who took the initiative and sought to join the trip. All of his children were interested in going but these two were allowed due to their availability in terms of time, and that they were deemed of an age appropriate to appreciate the experience and handle the conditions overseas.
For Dr. Levie’s end of the trip, he will spend the majority of his time teaching, mentoring and supervising procedures performed by Rwandan residents in his area of expertise. A major component of the CHAI sponsored outreach program is promoting self sufficiency in the local health care system by going on rounds with the residents, giving lectures and seeing patients with them on a daily basis.
There are about 30 residents in obstetrics and gynecology currently enrolled in the Rwandan Health Care Ministry’s residency program. They come from inside the country and from surrounding nations. They have little experience in the minimally invasive procedures which Dr. Levie specializes in. The introduction of such procedures would bring benefits including less pain, fewer complications and shorter recovery time for patients.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. By being on the ground, in-country, Dr. Levie will be able to respond directly to the current needs of the hospital staff. Besides his specialties he will be able to respond to direct requests for information on anything from specific surgeries to fertility issues and beyond. He can prepare a lecture and supervise actual residents in real procedures on demand. The idea behind such a program is that he, or another doctor, could go for two weeks and simply perform procedures the entire time. This would help a finite number of people. By extending the trip to several months and focusing on teaching, Dr. Levie and his colleagues will instill lasting change in the community. They will train professionals who can in turn train others to direct the future of the Rwandan health care system with limitless potential.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” -Maimonides
So what does Dr. Levie hope his children, and in turn our readers can learn from the experience? “That our role in life is to try and help others, and if we have something and are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to help others then we should do our best to do that.” Dr. Levie does not go on this trip because he was told to. He is not despondent over leaving his comfortable life here for a period of time to travel to a developing country. He is excited for the opportunity to share with the people of Rwanda. When asked what he hoped to get out of the trip, his response summed it all up in the best possible way. He conveyed the simple hope that he might “bring some of [his] positive life experience as well as [his] enjoyment of life and try to find some people with like spirits there whom [he] can lift up and help make their lives a little bit better.”
We wish him and his family the best during this time, and we here at InspireConversation.com look forward to following up with Dr. Levie after his return in September.
- What is a way in which you are fortunate that you may have taken for granted?
- Name a skill, talent or passion which you could share with others for their benefit.
- Do you think it is better to provide outreach through direct service or education? Why?
- Has your family ever done service together? Would you be interested and what do you think you would do? What can be gained from volunteering together?