Listening to Patients and Their Lungs
Children visit pediatricians and adults visit primary care or family medicine providers, but patients in good health rarely need the skills of a health care specialist. Since the rise of COVID-19, however, the skills of pulmonary specialist Herman Levy, M.D., have certainly been appreciated by all of Camden County.
A board-certified internist at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Pulmonary Medicine, Levy has treated patients with lung disease for nearly 30 years. With an additional specialization in critical care medicine, Levy’s skills are especially helpful as Southeast Georgia Health System battles the potentially deadly virus.
“It’s a very rewarding time to be a pulmonary specialist contributing to the fight against coronavirus,” says Levy. “As a credentialed physician with the Camden Campus hospital, I am part of a multidisciplinary medical team who treat COVID-19 patients. In particular, I care for patients with respiratory complications from the virus.”
Since 2017, Levy commutes an hour from his home in Brunswick, Georgia to serve the Camden County community. “Camden is a warm and welcoming area. I am so honored to care for the people who live here,” he says. The Golden Isles are especially dear to his heart after a youth spent in snowy climates.
Levy’s interest in medicine began in his native New Jersey. At 14, he worked as a clerk at a drug store, and his high school years were spent at New York Military Academy in New York State, an experience that instilled the discipline and focus required for a medical career. He completed his undergraduate degree at Montana State University in Bozeman and received his medical degree from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. While abroad, he worked as a medical technologist in a U.S. Army hospital. He completed an internship and residency at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and his fellowship training at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
After returning to the U.S., Levy made his mark in Central New York while helping to improve their emergency response system. Under his tutelage, first responders advanced their knowledge of emergency care. This was an important development in a region where hospitals were few and far between. Levy aided in overseeing classes, providing hands-on experience and certifying emergency personnel. As a result, “patients arrived [at hospitals] in a better, more stable condition than ever before.”
While patients benefit from his expertise, they can appreciate his bedside manner as well. Whether treating a patient with COVID-19, or a more traditional disease such as lung cancer or Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD), Levy prefers a “holistic” approach.
“The most important aspect of medicine is listening,” Levy says. “That’s how I develop a patient-doctor relationship. I strive to understand their story and treat the whole patient, not just the organ system.”
Levy hopes that his empathetic care encourages patients to embrace his suggestions. “Lifestyle is crucial to our quality of life. I emphasize the importance of not smoking and avoiding situations that are injurious to their lungs and overall well-being.”
Working with patients who struggle to breathe requires calm and compassion. Levy’s family ties – his wife, Joni, five grown children and 10 grandchildren – put life in perspective. And nothing counteracts a hard day at the hospital like coming home to the antics of the teacup poodles his wife raises. He also enjoys delving into his interest in history.
Reflecting on his blessings, Levy says his career is high on the list. “I’m grateful I became a doctor and fulfilled my desire to make people’s lives better.”
Herman Levy, M.D., can be reached at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Pulmonary Medicine in St. Marys, 912-540-6740.
Today’s Frontline Heroes is sponsored by Southeast Georgia Health System. Visit their website at sghs.org.