Fourteen-year Coast resident Dr. Phil Levin has found a way to make literature pay; not just for himself, but for those most in need of his medical services.
For years an ER doctor at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport has enjoyed his work healing other.
"I very much enjoy the puzzle presented by ER work," he said, "the quick decision-making that allows us to enjoy the thrill of saving lives and helping traumatized people in that setting. There, lab tests turn around quicker, and there are no insurance matters to negotiate; we treat everyone regardless of their status."
That view of the medical practice has led Levin down a similar path in Third World countries, but that's getting ahead of his story.
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Levin also is deeply involved in the Gulf Coast Writers Association, helping new and unpublished authors find a toe-hold in the profession with both advice and the inclusion of their work in Gulf Coast writer anthologies of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He knows well that literary path as an author of murder mysteries, contemporary novels, Bible-related books, historical fiction and children's books.
Notable among those are "Altered Perspectives," historical fiction about Biblical characters Essau and Jacob; "Nduvo the Elephant," set in the wilds of Kenya about a lost baby elephant searching for his family, and "Katrina Memories: Stories from Survivors." For his efforts, he has won literary awards in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
His newest effort is his forthcoming children's book, "Bill the Blue Footed Boobie," set to debut on the Coast this month. This tale of a booby bird bringing greetings to various brightly colored iguana colonies is illustrated by 800 photos Levin took on the Galapagos Islands.
A higher purpose
And this brings us to the crux of Levin's story: He has found a way to use the proceeds from his books and his medical practice to bring modern medical care to areas where there has been little or none. While in those areas, he takes photos and ferrets out local lore, both of which may find their way into his next book.
He has taken nine mission trips since 2004, including helping to launch medical clinics in Honduras (2004) Peru (2006), Mozambique (2008) and Haiti (2015), establishing an orphanage and leprosy clinic in Chenai, India, and volunteering his medical services in Soweto, South Africa.
Ultimate house call
In a world where physician house calls have become extinct, Levin travels around the world bringing his special talents for medicine and modernization to those who have never seen the like before.