“A nation should not be judged by its wealth, but by how it treats it poor.”
It’s beginning to get dark. You can hear the evening rush-hour traffic overhead. The band of people living under the overpass are getting ready for another night. Some have a few personal possessions to guard; others arrange newspapers and cardboard boxes for shelter. A homeless woman searches through her bag for part of a sandwich she found that morning. A drug addict lies on the ground, his eyes glassy and blank. His right hand is cut and badly needs attention, but he is oblivious.
A young man with broad shoulders and neatly cut black hair leans over him and examines the injured hand. He reaches into his medicine bag and takes out a disinfectant puts some on a bandage and wraps it around the injured hand. He walks among the others, stopping to talk. He checks an eye here, an ear there. The people trust him. He’s been there several times before.
Cuban born Pedro “Joe” Greer lives in Miami. His father was the first member of his family to finish high school. He became a doctor and treated the poor. Young Joe learned about helping the needy at an early age-he too, would become a doctor like his father.
When Joe took the Hippocratic Oath he vowed to treat people wherever they were. Today, he doesn’t reserve his skills for those who can pay of those who have insurance. He says the inner city is like a third-world nation. The public health system is not working. Joe says, “I want to help the homeless, they don’t have the breaks I did.”
In the beginning he served food to gain the confidence of those who needed help. The power of his message spread. Joe soon had over two hundred volunteers, sixty physicians, fifty nurses and medical students helping him.
He found ways to make a bigger impact on the problems of the homeless. He wrote a course for medical students on treating the poor and homeless. He built a seven-room clinic here he treats anyone who comes. He solicited free drugs samples from the pharmaceutical companies.
Joe looks at the Freedom Tower, one block from his clinic, he says, “there is something wrong when I have to step over people in the streets. In this society we have so much and we have to give back.”
Dr. Joe Greer’s actions speak louder than his words. But when he does talk about the clinic or the people he treats, he communicates powerful and poignant message. Joe says, “A nation should not be judged by its wealth, but by how it treats it poor.”
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