Living in a small town on a small island has its trade-offs. You gain open waterfront and a tight-knit community but lose access to big city amenities.
While we can do without big box stores and wildly varied nightlife, we can’t do without quality healthcare. Keys residents typically have to trek up to Miami to receive specialty healthcare. It’s inconvenient, eats up gas money, and can lead to some patients delaying their care. Dr. Guillermo Lievano and Dr. Ileana Perez have seen its impact on their patients and have come up with a solution.
“Women already have enough on their plates without having to drive off the rock for specialty healthcare,” Dr. Lievano says. “We’ve built a strong patient base of Keys residents, and it’s time we come to them.”
Dr. Lievano and Dr. Perez established a private OBGYN practice in Miami in 2011 that quickly flourished. Word spread, and more and more women from the Keys became patients, ultimately leading to the decision to open a satellite office in Tavernier.
The possibility of opening an office in the Keys was always on Dr. Lievano’s radar based on his own experience. He had joined a Miami practice straight out of residency that sent him to the Keys to treat patients as an associate. That experience opened his eyes to the need for local healthcare and introduced him to the wonderful small-town community.
Bringing local healthcare to women in the Keys
“I knew that as soon as it became practical, I wanted to bring healthcare to women in the Keys,” Dr. Lievano says. “And Dr. Perez couldn’t agree more.” Dr. Lievano and Dr. Perez share the same values in patient care, which led them to join forces in the first place. The two doctors trained together at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami for their OBGYN specialty. After practicing elsewhere for several years, they reconnected and founded Lievano-Perez Obstetrics & Gynecology of Miami.
“After having my third son, the opportunity presented itself to partner with Dr. Lievano,” Dr. Perez explains. “It was an easy decision since we both share mutual trust and respect, and agree on how patient care should be provided.”
The two have seemed to be on the same path in their professional careers from the beginning. As children, they were both very interested in and excelled at science and math. They realized at an early age they could apply that interest and skill set to medicine, which gave them the added ability to help others. Neither had planned on going into obstetrics and gynecology at first; in fact, Dr. Lievano shied away from the specialty initially.
“As I went through core rotations in med school, I kept getting drawn back to obstetrics and gynecology. I realized it’s more important to do what I love than to stubbornly pursue a field that didn’t give me the same fulfillment.” Dr. Perez was also drawn to the field during medical school as she saw how women are not only involved in their own healthcare but also take an active role in the healthcare of their parents, grandparents, children, and significant others. She felt that, in a way, by treating women, she would be helping everyone.
Personal and professional paths converge
Their parallel paths converged during their training and briefly branched out before reconverging to start their practice. Together, they built a team of women’s healthcare professionals that have been serving women in the greater Miami area down to the Keys for over a decade.
Dr. Lievano and Dr. Perez have gotten to know their Keys patients well and spend much of their free time in the area. Dr. Lievano is a part-time resident; He, his wife, and three children enjoy fishing, diving, snorkeling, and other water sports. They often run into his patients out on the water or at restaurants.
Dr. Perez is also married with three children. Whenever they are in the Keys, they go snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking together as a family. They appreciate the small-town atmosphere and escape from the big city to the outdoors. She’s looking forward to enjoying the scenic drive more often now that the satellite office is opening.
Established connections within the community
Being familiar with the area and the tight-knit community, Dr. Lievano and Dr. Perez knew that the best way to serve the Keys community would be to employ one of their own. They have established relationships with many local patients but understand the value of having a local on their team. So, they have recruited a well-known and well-loved nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Marilyn Penuela-Ladaga has lived in the Keys with her husband for 11 years. Her husband recently retired from the Coast Guard, which stationed them here, but they certainly don’t need orders to stay. They consider the Keys their home and plan to raise their newborn daughter in the community they so easily fell in love with. Marilyn became a registered nurse in 2003, spending her entire RN career in the women’s health sector. Like Doctors Lievano and Perez, she had always been interested in medicine and healthcare and chose nursing to help people and serve as a healthcare advocate.
Over time, Marilyn realized she wanted to provide even more care for patients. So, she returned to school and became an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner in 2011. As an ARNP, she can see patients independently, prescribe medication, order labs, and do more for her patients overall. Marilyn worked with a local practice from 2015 until early this year when she gave birth to her daughter. Becoming a mother has been very fulfilling and has given her a new perspective as a nurse practitioner who has always worked in women’s healthcare.
“I’ve worked with many mothers throughout my career, and now I can relate on a deeper level. I know what it’s like to endure the discomfort of pregnancy, recover from a c-section, and deal with postpartum issues. I believe I can serve my prenatal patients even better now.”
To balance being a mom and putting this new insight to use, Marilyn has joined the Lievano-Perez team. “Working at the new satellite office in Tavernier is the perfect opportunity to continue doing what I love,” Marilyn says. “I’m looking forward to helping other mothers, of course, but I also really enjoy treating women at different stages in life, including teens coming to the gynecologist for the first time. I want to make them feel comfortable and confident as they transition to womanhood.”
The satellite office is located across from Mariner’s Hospital and is currently accepting appointments for new and existing patients. The facility will be open for a few days a week to begin with and will expand its hours as needed. Though it’s a satellite office, it offers everything typical of a standard ObGyn practice, including gynecological, reproductive, and prenatal care. Women from teenage years through menopause will receive the quality care they deserve close to home.
“Our goal with the satellite office is to provide the same great, personalized care we’ve been providing our patients for years,” Dr. Lievano says. “We want to make women’s healthcare more accessible for our existing patients and new patients, especially those who may have been putting off getting the care they need because of the lack of local care.”
Dr. Lievano and Dr. Perez will still primarily work in Miami; however, they will regularly commute to the Keys to support Marilyn. Together, they are confident in their ability to provide top-quality care to the small-town community of the Keys. Local women no longer have to commute to get the specialized healthcare they need. Lievano-Perez Obstetrics and Gynecology is now available right here at home.
To learn more about the Dr. Lievano-Perez team and newest location call 305-270-3562
Office located at: 91555 Overseas Highway Unit 3 – Tavernier, FL
–Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.