Dr. Joe Greer, who was a featured Gables Great in 2010, continues to inspire like few others. Since that time he has traveled the world and nation promoting FIU School of Medicine’s new curriculum that has medical students adopting families in poorer neighborhoods, following them through treatments and offering preventive care. Joe shares his big heart with others, encouraging future doctors and always entertaining with his humor and charm.
Joe recently received the Coral Gables Citizen of the Year Award from the Rotary Club of Coral Gables at a luncheon in May where he entertained the crowd and updated us on his grown children — Alana, an attorney and co-founder of the Community Justice Project, and son, Peter, who is a writer and actor.
Following is the column published six years ago, highlighting his career and touching on some of his major contributions to our community and on the way we approach medical care.
Humanitarian, physician, author, family man, and this issue’s Gables Great, Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, is a man whose passion to help those less fortunate is a movie script waiting to happen.
He is one of those people who bring home the message that one person can make a difference. One has only to look at Greer’s accomplishments to comprehend how this one man has changed the lives of so many.
Dr. Joe Greer, who has a joint private practice with his father, Pedro Greer Sr., is also the assistant dean of Academic Affairs at the Florida International University School of Medicine, where he serves as chair of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society.
In 1984, inspired to never let anyone die alone after the death of his sister four years earlier, Greer happened onto Camillus House in search of the family of a homeless man he had encountered who was dying of TB.
That initial outreach to one man, gave way to his founding Camillus Health Concern, an agency that provides medical care to over 10,000 homeless patients a year in the city of Miami, as well as of the St. John Bosco Clinic, where he is medical director. That clinic provides basic primary medical care to disadvantaged children and adults in the Little Havana community.
Over the years, Greer has been recognized by Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter for his work with Miami’s poor. He also has received three Papal medals, “Pro Ecclesia ET Pontifica” and was knighted by the Knights of Malta and the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He was the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant.”
Greer’s autobiography, Waking up in America: How One Doctor Brings Hope to Those Who Need It Most, is both inspiring and a great read. He has published more than 25 articles and book chapters on subjects from digestive disorders to poverty in America and has been featured on every major television networks as well as HBO and PBS.
While Greer completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, he received his medical degree from La Universidad Catolica, Madre and Maestra. He completed his post doctoral studies at the University of Miami where he was Chief Medical Resident and a fellow in hematology at the Center for Liver Diseases, a fellowship in gastroenterology, earning two post doctoral fellowships.
Greer serves on a multitude of high profile boards and is a sought after speaker who is both entertaining and inspiring. He is a man whose sense of humor brings laughter and whose passion for the homeless and disenfranchised can bring tears to the most stoic of individuals. He has lectured at Harvard, Emory and the University of Florida, always encouraging medical students to continue his outreach.