The Keys may be the sport fishing capital of the world, but at its heart, it’s a small town. Neighbors know and support each other. Businesses help each other. The kids grow up together, and the cycle of the tight-knit community continues. And the town doctor is part of it all.
Doctor Stanley Zuba moved to the Upper Keys 26 years ago. He was a big-city doctor that practiced in Chicago but always dreamed of moving to the Keys. Every year as a teenager, he’d stay with his parents at Sugar Loaf Lodge. They would fish off the bridges, hire a fishing guide, and make the most of their 10-day annual vacation.
He continued the tradition as an adult, escaping to Key West every year with his husband, Eric Anderson. So, when the opportunity came for Dr. Zuba to start a pediatric practice here, he jumped at it. “While working in Chicago, I saw an ad from Baptist Health South Florida looking for an outpatient pediatrician in the Keys,” Dr. Zuba says. “As a pediatrician and avid fisherman, it was everything I dreamed of.”
After an extensive interview process, Dr. Zuba was given the job and tasked with establishing the Florida Keys Pediatric & Adolescent Center. He was nervous at first, but in true Keys fashion, the community welcomed him and Eric with open arms.
“Having an outpatient pediatric practice has been more rewarding than I could’ve ever imagined,” Dr. Zuba says. “I get to watch my patients grow up, become parents themselves, and then treat their children. It’s something very special you don’t get in a big city practice.”
Florida Keys Pediatric & Adolescent Center has grown alongside its patients, adding Dr. John Weare to the practice 8 years ago. After practicing in Melbourne for over 20 years, Dr. Weare moved to the Keys to embrace the lifestyle and to serve the community. “Dr. Weare has been an amazing asset to our practice. He’s an outstanding clinician and a great person,” Dr. Zuba shares.
Florida Keys Pediatric is now welcoming another doctor to the team to work alongside Dr. Zuba and Dr. Weare. After extensively interviewing several candidates, Dr. Metee Comkornruecha has been offered and happily accepted the position.
“I greatly admire how Dr. Zuba runs his practice and how much his patients mean to him,” Dr. Comkornruecha says. “My biggest goal is to be that same kind of personally-invested doctor with my patients. I don’t want to be just some doctor. I want to be their doctor.”
It is that patient-driven determination that convinced Dr. Zuba that Dr. Comkornruecha is the right person for the job. Originally from Tenessee, Dr. Comkornruecha has lived and practiced in Miami for nearly 20 years. He came to South Florida for his medical residency, but he “loved the people, loved the culture, and loved the job,” so he decided to stay.
Dr. C, as many of his patients call him, is a board-certified pediatrician with extensive experience with adolescent care. He shares how rewarding it is to work with teens as they learn to take charge of their health and grow into healthy adults.
“I became a doctor because I wanted to help people, but now more than ever, I want to develop long-lasting bonds with my patients and their families and watch them grow,” Dr. Comkornruecha says.
Dr. Weare and Dr. Comkornruecha do lighten the workload for Dr. Zuba, but he is not retiring any time soon and will continue to have a strong presence at Florida Keys Pediatrics & Adolescent Center. He is excited for the new small-town doctor to be welcomed to the community just as he was all those years ago.
-Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor who loves to travel vicariously through stories.