When Dr. Joan Greco made the decision to move to Hawai‘i Island in 1993, she says she was met with aloha, and it has only gotten better from there.
Dr. Greco is an oral and facial cosmetic surgeon—she’s known as the surgeon with a delicate touch. She loves what she does, and hopes to be doing it long beyond retirement age.
Dr. Greco was inspired by her father, Dr. Victor Greco, one of the surgeons who invented and developed the first heart/ lung machine, allowing the bypass of blood from the heart during surgery, which then allows safe surgery on the heart and vessels. Her father was not only an outstanding surgeon, he was also an amazing businessman. She says she always wanted to be a surgeon just like her dad.
Dr. Greco started out as a nurse (neo-natal and pediatric ICU), which helped her work her way through dental school. She also graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, with a triple major. She did her undergraduate prerequisites at Texas A&M University then Dental School at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. By the time she finished dental school she had published 11 papers in their referred journals and had given as many presentations at the national and international meetings.
She wanted to specialize in children with facial deformities. One of the routes was through dentistry with a specialization in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS). Oral surgery education programs only take the top one-to-two percent in the class, and being a woman made it statistically even more difficult to qualify. (Of the practicing 6,500+ oral surgeons, less than 150 are female.) She graduated from the top ranked program in the country for OMFS— Louisiana State University at New Orleans.
Her training was in the Charity Hospital system, and she says, “It was amazing! Every day was an amazing challenge— with little sleep and so much surgery to do. I realized I had a finite time to learn everything I would need to know to prepare myself to be successful in private practice. In my chief residency year, I realized facial cosmetic surgery was a real part of the specialty and I began finding my patients and doing the surgeries. I came out of my program completing more cosmetic cases than my plastic surgery counterparts. I was well-equipped the day I started my practice here in Kona in July, 1994.”
Dr. Greco has three offices on Hawai‘i Island. “I have patients who are referred from all over the island. I thought it was wiser to have two cars (mine and Julio’s, my nurse of 22 years) on the road than many cars with patients having to come see me. Besides, it clears my mind at the start and end of my days to drive back and forth.”
Dr. Greco specializes in helping anyone that she can make feel better from the neck up. She enjoys being able to serve the residents of Hawai‘i Island. She says, “I love what I do and I don’t see that changing.”
In regards to managing her staff, she says sheʻs “friendly, firm, and fair. I offer lots of education and try to get my employees to a much better place than where they start. I send staff, and myself, for continuing education. I generously bonus my staff and I give back to the community. It is not unusual for me to do free services for patients in need—all I ask in return is for them to ‘pay it forward’ with random acts of kindness.”Congratulations on 20 years in private practice, Dr. Joan Greco.