Dr. Pedro “Joe” Greer, Jr., associate dean for Community Engagement at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM), will soon join a who’s who of American history makers honored with the Jefferson Award.
Founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, president and CEO of the American Institute for Public Service, the Jefferson Award is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for public service. Past winners include former President Jimmy Carter, five Supreme Court Justices, seven Secretaries of State, three First Ladies, TV personality and humanitarian Oprah Winfrey, NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, advocate for the disadvantaged Marian Wright Edelman, professor and author Elie Wiesel, and director and producer Ken Burns.
Five national awards are given out annually. Greer will receive the 2014 National Jefferson Award in the category of Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged.
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition. As a physician I am bound by my oath to serve, as an American it is the core of my soul to help others,” Greer said.
Greer is the founding chair of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society at the HWCOM – where he spearheaded a unique concept in medical education, the Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP™ (Health Education Learning Program). As the cornerstone of the medical curriculum of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the program sends student teams to visit patients in their homes in underserved communities of Miami-Dade County, preparing them to address the social determinants that affect health access and outcomes.
The program provides individuals and communities with a range of services including education, support and primary health care provided through a Mobile Health Care Center, staffed by physicians and nurses from the medical school.
A relentless advocate for those who lack access to health care, Greer established Camillus Health Concern and Saint John Bosco Clinic in Miami for the homeless, undocumented, uninsured and low income.
In 2009, Greer’s work for the homeless was recognized when President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The Jefferson Awards ceremonies will take place June 17-18 in Washington, D.C.