Internist Dr. Greg Hammett Returns to Coronado to Work for SharpCare Medical
If like me you are a sucker for a 'Local Boy Makes Good Story,' then we have one for you in the person of Dr. Greg Hammett (CHS '02). I've known Greg and his twin brother Tom since they both played Minors Little League Baseball at the age of 10 against our son Mike. In July of 2017, Greg and his wife Erin purchased a house in Imperial Beach and Greg started working for SharpCare Medical as an Internist in Coronado.
Before we close the journalistic gap covering the past 20 years or so, let's let Greg update us on his siblings, the children of Phil and Pam Hammett. "Tom (the older twin by one minute) and his wife Emily are living in San Clemente and they just opened their fourth Pilates Studio, all located in Orange County. They met when they were both working for Northwestern Mutual in investments and life insurance. Emily was a CPA there. My sister Michelle Munns (CHS '06) earned a degree in accounting from USD, is a full-time mom with two kids, and lives in Coronado with her husband Adam Munns. Their kids are Zoey and Vaughn."
Greg is a fine all-around athlete and started playing soccer at the age of five. In addition, he played Little League Baseball at an All-Star level. Greg also has a fine sense of humor, meaning the apple doesn't fall too far from the parental tree. When asked about his memories of Little League Baseball he replied, "Crying when I struck out. That and being on the best team, the Yankees and having the best pitcher. Dad coached us all the way."
Fast forward a few years and Greg parlayed his athletic ability into four high school varsity letters in soccer, four more in cross country and three in lacrosse. While at CHS Greg was a Board Member on ASB and earned the Principal's Award for Service to the school. Hammett said of his favorite memories from high school, "Probably just being able to ride my bike all around town, to the house of close friends I have known since I was five years old. That and surfing at the Shores." Perhaps his only sign of mental instability is that Hammett, an avid surfer, owns seven surfboards and if Erin went along with it, he would buy even more.
After high school, Hammett went to USC and found his professional path that eventually led to medicine. "My major was in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies, which was a Bachelor's in Science. What attracted me to the school was that it was a Social Science major, not a hard science like Biology or Chemistry. It was more public-health based and on a Pre-Med track. When I was an undergrad, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala, which finalized my resolve to go onto medicine. It was a medical mission for two weeks in rural Guatemala and we went there with a team of surgeons and primary care doctors. We took over a former Naval hospital and turned it into an operating room and a clinic for a week. This was done through HELPS International, which Mom found out about from a Rotary Club presentation they did. USC is in Downtown L.A. and there are lots of opportunities to integrate into the community there, with under-served and marginalized people. I volunteered at local schools, a school for battered women and I improved my Spanish. I got into USC as a spring admit and I went to Spain for three months and enrolled in a Spanish school there. When I look back, that really made such a huge difference. And that created a connection with my wife. Her mom Lucy Kenney is 100 percent Columbian and Erin is 50 percent. Erin's dad is Tim Kenney and he owns Kenney Roofing. They live in Chula Vista, where Erin grew up." As a bit of foreshadowing, the Kenneys return to play a pretty major role in another few paragraphs.
After USC and before launching into medical school, Greg took a couple of years off, traveling and surfing his way through Australia, Indonesia and at one point, pursued a side gig teaching English in Korea. Since the trip included both coasts of Australia, one would presume surfing played was a prime reason for the trip.
Greg met his wife in an unusual setting, while both were taking a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) prep class at UCSD. Greg explained, "She went to UC Santa Barbara and we both took the MCAT after graduation. We met there, and we went to different medical schools in Florida. We were engaged at the time and I chased her back to Santa Barbara. We went through residency together and she was a year ahead of me through the whole process."
Greg graduated from medical school at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Both Greg and Erin did their internship at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Hammett described the program. "The training we got was phenomenal and our mentors were highly renowned, from high academic institutions. It was a small program with only eight residents a year, with a lot of immediate attention. There was a very forced, high level of stress to excel. It was rigorous, and we were also living in paradise. The other thing is we had our daughter at the beginning of our internships. It was the worst time to have a child, we were sleep deprived, having to work at night. It was the most stressed I have ever been. Looking back on it, that made a huge impact on me. It made me more organized and efficient, working smarter and more focused."
Re-enter the Kenneys. "My in-laws moved in with us and without them our residencies would have been impossible. Lucy took care of Stella the whole time and they didn't flinch at the idea of living with us. They are a lot of fun."
Hammett is a Doctor of Osteopathy and practices Internal Medicine. "I treat patients 18 and up, with my primary focus being on the geriatric, aging population. I do hospital work for one week and then clinic work for two weeks. Every third week in the hospital is all medicine. I admit patients to the hospital and manage chronic diseases. It is full-scope Internal Medicine. I would never want to be a surgeon. Basically, I am a primary care doctor."
Hammett had the opportunity to return to Coronado practice courtesy of Dr. Ken Warm. "He's a close family friend and we used to be neighbors," Hammett said. "My Mom talked to Ken and kept him up-to-date on my progress throughout. He said, 'Tell him to come see me when he graduates.' That was during my senior year of residency, which was the perfect time."
Meanwhile, Erin isn't neglecting her career, as she is working on a fellowship at Scripps in Rheumatology. Greg explained, "It's the study of joint disease and auto-immune diseases."
Hammett took the opportunity to thank and pay homage to his mentors. "I attribute most of my success to Coronado being a village that raises kids. The thing is, most of my friends didn't stray too far. I got a lot of inspiration from my teachers Smokey Bayless, Jenny Moore and Davin Heaphy. They were my favorites for sure. Bayless spun the whole idea of going to Spain and he lined me up with the language school in Spain. And of course, there are my folks and grandparents. And Barbara and Joe Perkins. Joe died in January of last year. There was also the inspiration of seeing Dr. Donald Dill around town and noting his professionalism, candor and respect. That was aspirational to me as a young kid."
Hammett still surfs several times a week. "On the weekends, we spend time with my parents in town and my in-laws. We run the circuit from Chula Vista to Coronado and back down to I.B. Every weekend I surf in the morning and then Erin runs down the beach. We have a bike carriage for Stella and Erin will run. Then we go to the beach and play around. We live half a mile from the beach and you can ride your bike everywhere."
As for young Stella, does Greg have plans for her to play youth soccer? "Absolutely. She is already obsessed with swimming and hopefully she will be in love with the water and the beach. She is taking swimming lessons now and nailing it. She is also into dancing and other fun stuff."
To reach Greg Hammett through the Sharp Community Medical Group, call him at 619-522-4000. His office is located at 230 Prospect Place, Suite 340 B in Coronado. His office accepts most major insurance plans and Medicare.
This story by David Axelson originally appeared in the Coronado Eagle & Journal.