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Isabel Lyman Book Reviews by Izzy Lyman

Waking Up in America Waking Up in America
by Dr. Pedro José Greer

A brief disclosure. I am acquainted with this book’s author from my South Florida teen-age days when was he just another pretty face. Back then Joey Greer was a popular football player at a Catholic boys’ high school and the doted-on son of a prominent physician.

Life for Greer, however, hasn’t remained cushy. When Chichi, his 17-year-old baby sister, was killed in an automobile accident, he vowed in a prayer he “would not let anyone suffer or die alone.” How he has kept his promise is what inspired this upbeat autobiography, which also serves as an expose of the squalid third world conditions that exist in the United States. I only wish the book had photos.

“Dr. Joe,” as the hepatologist and gastroenterologist is now called, works among Miami’s homeless population. He is the founder of Camillus Health Concern, a clinic that provides free medical care to drug addicts, prostitutes, and undocumented aliens; he records 50,000 annual visits.

Spreading the word about his clinic was no small feat for this irreverent Cuban. Dr. Joe ventured to the Mudflats, a dark spot under a busy highway where the destitute live in cardboard boxes. It is there that he met one of his favorite patients - an emaciated Haitian named Jean Phillipe. Lying on a filthy foam-rubber pad and stricken with a huge stomach ulcer, the gentle Jean Phillipe relied on his crackhead neighbors for food. Thanks to Camillus Health Concern, he recovered and began working with other homeless men.

Moral of story: It doesn’t take a village to care about the underclass. Sometimes it takes only one fired-up guy.

This article appeared in The Oklahoman on October 17, 1999.

Isabel Lyman lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
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