The father and son duo of Dr. James A. Greene and J.R. Greene have spent their careers working to improve the quality of life of older adults in rural communities.
James A. Greene, M.D., a native of rural Sneedville, Tennessee, has dedicated his life’s work to geriatric psychiatry. His professional career spans 50 years, including 40 years in active clinical practice or academic teaching and over 30 years in geriatric psychiatry.
“I always had a strong interest in working with families, either primary care or psychiatry,” says Dr. Greene. “I wanted to focus on building relationships and talking to folks.”
Dr. Greene founded his first company, Geriatric Medical Care (GMC), in 1992. GMC focused on the management of geriatric inpatient and outpatient care programs. During Dr. Greene’s tenure, GMC gained national attention and became the 5th largest behavioral health contract management firm before being acquired in 1997.
With his enduring desire to impact as many people as possible, Dr. Greene founded Psychiatric Medical Care (PMC) in 2003. By this time, he was named interim Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. He became permanent Chair in 2008.
Today, in addition to this ongoing high-profile role at UT, Dr. Greene continues to provide ongoing consultation to the PMC executive leadership team and serves as serves as the organization’s Chief Medical Officer.
Though Dr. Greene moved several times during his career, his heart remained in the heartland. “If you grow up as I did in a rural community, you wind up having to develop a different kind of relationship with those around you. People are bonded together for protection, for access. You’re very connected and close with people in the neighborhood and the community. You can take the person away from the rural culture, but you can’t take that culture away from them.”
His steadfast commitment to country living remains the cornerstone of PMC’s focus. “We provide behavioral health access to elderly patients living in rural communities,” explains Dr. Greene. “We partner with hospitals across the country to bring behavior healthcare to communities that otherwise would have no access to this kind of care.”
Dr. Greene’s son, John Robert “J.R.” Greene, is the Chief Executive Officer of Psychiatric Medical Care. Having already made his mark at Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Revlon., J.R. initially assumed a consulting role at PMC in 2009.
“As an adult, I began to see the significance of my father’s life’s work in a brand-new light. Here was a man who chose to focus his entire career on helping the seniors’ population decades before geriatrics or geriatric psychiatry were even designated as specialties.”
Whether it was the result of nature or nurture, J.R. Greene walked away from consumer products and services in favor of the family business.
Then again, J.R. recalls doing arts and crafts projects with mental health patients and even completed an Eagle Scout project in a geriatric inpatient psychiatry unit. Character-building endeavors that likely explain J.R.’s emphasis on a corporate culture that is equal parts accountable and kind.
“As an adult, I began to see the significance of my father’s life’s work in a brand-new light,” recalls J.R. “Here was a man who chose to focus his entire career on helping the seniors’ population decades before geriatrics or geriatric psychiatry were even designated as specialties. My father was a pioneer. I wanted to be part of protecting these patients—these people—and their legacy.”
J.R.’s consumer knowledge and business acumen coupled with his father’s status as an undisputed leader in geriatric psychiatry proved to be an unparalleled combination.
“Though JR didn’t grow up in a rural environment, he has a small-town mentality. This is important because we are working with families, not just individuals,” observes Dr. Greene. “Not only do J.R. and I have an emotional connection with small-town America and the senior population, but the company has the clinical expertise to do the job right. I marvel at the team of medical professionals who have made PMC their professional home.”
“It’s a difficult industry because it’s a gray-matter illness,” suggests J.R. “No one can see the illness. There’s no immediate cure. There’s no quick pill. Our company improves the function and quality of life for our patients every day. Could anything possibly be more important?”
So much of the Greene’s—and subsequently PMC’s—spirit harkens back to an old African proverb. An idiom refined by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley and shared with his dear friend, Dr. James A. Greene. “Every time an elderly person dies in America, it’s like burning down a library.”
In simple turns, the Greenes see themselves as caretakers of those libraries.
And how do they do it? “If you take care of the people,” says Dr. Greene, “Everything else works itself out.”
“We build our teams around our mission, which is to improve the quality of life for our patients and ensure highly collaborative partnerships with our hospital hosts. Together, we are savings lives.”