Those who embrace the Keys lifestyle understand the importance of self-care. They value a healthy work-life balance, admire nature more than screens, and challenge themselves with outdoor activities. But even in Paradise, some self-care requires medical assistance.
However, one of the biggest disadvantages of living on islands is being isolated from top medical care. It was a disadvantage that Dr. Miguel Diaz-Miret wouldn’t tolerate, and he has made it his mission to provide top-of-the-line medical care in the Keys.
“The Keys community continues to grow, but there are not enough doctors to meet the demand,” Dr. Diaz explains. “That’s why we’ve created a training program to expand and enable more physicians to come to the area.”
Dr. Diaz came to the area himself soon after completing his residency at Ascension St. Vincent’s Family Medicine Center in Birmingham, Alabama. He established Islamorada Medical Center, which he has been growing alongside his family of seven.
Just like his family, Islamorada Medical Center has speedily expanded, becoming an esteemed local resource led by highly- vetted specialists in their field. Dr. Diaz actively trains and recruits physicians and technicians, taking pride in hiring not only very competent but also very personable people.
As a father of five, Dr. Diaz believes a medical team should operate like a family, especially when serving the Keys. “The Keys is a close-knit community. We don’t treat nameless patients here, but friends and neighbors. Every doctor that joins our team must share those values.”
For him, that includes prioritizing his family. With a family of seven, he has worked hard to achieve a work-life balance that he encourages all his patients to attain.
“When you finish medical school, you want to help as many people as possible, but you eventually realize you’re only one person. To help as many people as possible, you have to build a team,” Dr. Diaz says. “My family helped me realize this, and that realization has led to more people receiving more healthcare, and, in turn, I have a more balanced life with my family.”
Dr. Diaz’s program has been so successful at building a self- sustaining team that Islamorada Medical Center now has two facilities: one in Tavernier and the other in Marathon. New services are offered, including medical spa treatments, and more doctors have signed on.
Dr. Diana Limon, Dr. Bledar Haxhiu, and Dr. Kelvin Ong joined the Islamorada Medical Center team for similar reasons, but they were inspired to enter the medical field differently.
Dr. Diana Limon realized she wanted to be a doctor at only 8 years old. She saw a TV program about a group of doctors going on missions to help kids with congenital heart problems in remote areas of the world. “I wanted to be a part of that,” she says, and she made that dream a reality.
Dr. Limon specializes in family medicine and continues to aspire to help others in remote locations around the world, but doesn’t disregard the need closer to home. Like Dr. Diaz, she doesn’t believe the residents of the Keys should have to travel hours to receive quality medical care.
AT IMC, all physicians must work at the clinic for 1-3 years before they are hired permanently as part of Dr. Diaz’s strict vetting process. Dr. Limon has proven herself in that time and has happily decided to continue with the clinic. “I love the team, I love my patients, and at IMC, there’s a family atmosphere.”
The family atmosphere also appealed to Dr. Bledar Haxhiu. “I started my training in Iowa,” Dr. Haxhiu explains, “and then requested to do my clinic at IMC because it shares the same small-town feel. There are fewer medical resources in the Keys, but at IMC, I get to provide a full scope of medicine.”
Dr. Haxhiu is also a skilled family medicine physician, specializing in addiction medicine and with a special interest in hyperbaric medicine. He completed a fellowship in the field, conducting research and treating patients with decompression sickness and diabetes. Treating a community known for its diving enthusiasts is an obvious appeal for Dr. Haxhiu to come to the Keys.
Dr. Kelvin Ong found his purpose in medicine, too, based on wanting to use his natural intelligence and memory skills for good. He has the mind and the heart to “help people live the best versions of themselves” and finds that mission very fulfilling.
In addition to being a family medicine physician, Dr. Ong is a Doctor of Osteopathy. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine is similar to chiropractic and massage therapy, using one’s anatomy to provide healing.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to use these hands of healing to solve all kinds of pain and limitations that were untouched by previous treatments and medications,” Dr. Ong says. This form of therapy is one of the many unique services IMC, including its medical spa, offers.
Islamorada Medical Center provides general and preventative health care and offers acute and chronic disease management. The center even has a diagnostic imaging suite that enables patients to get electrocardiograms and X-rays locally.
Self-care is about more than not feeling sick; it’s also about feeling good about oneself. To provide this all-around care, IMC offers a wide range of medical aesthetics services, which treat face, body, skin, and women’s wellness with state-of-the-art light laser and radio frequency devices. Some of the many services include facial and body contouring, wrinkle reduction, urinary incontinence treatment, and scar, hair, and spider vein removal.
“The Keys lifestyle revolves around water and fine weather. It’s only natural that people want to look and feel their best, whether they’re dressing up for a night out or putting on a swimsuit for the day,” Dr. Diaz says. “We help our med-spa patients feel comfortable in their own skin.”
IMC’s MedSpa’s state-of-the- art equipment includes the Morpheus8, which is a micro- needling treatment that stimulates collagen production to tighten and smooth wrinkles on the face and body. This treatment is also widely used to reduce scarring, stretch marks, and sun damage.
“If the Keys is good at teaching one thing, it’s a happy, healthy lifestyle.” Dr. Diaz says. “My family and I try to take that lesson to heart every day, enjoying all this paradise has to offer.”
The doctors at Islamorada Medical Center share that sentiment. Even though some do not live in the Keys full-time, they happily commute on a regular basis to bring the care their local patients need. Plus, they take advantage of working in such a beautiful place.
When not treating patients, team members often enjoy dining at local restaurants and hitting the water with family and friends. Working in such a lively setting is a good reminder to take a break from their busy and demanding careers to rejuvenate.
In a way, the local community teaches them about self-care in the same way they teach and treat their patients. Self-care is all about a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle.
To learn more about Islamorada Medical Center’s health and medical spa services, visit IslamoradaMedicalCenter.com to call or request an appointment.
– Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor who loves to travel vicariously through stories.