In what part of town do you live?
In Palmetto Bay.

How long have you lived in the area?
10 years. I’m from Kendall originally.

What keeps you busy during the week?
These days. COVID. I’m a nurse at South Miami Hospital. In addition to that, I’m a small business owner. Our business is called Marino eyecare. My wife is an optometrist and I help her run the office. And then, I have two little children who are my real full time job. They keep me quite busy.

What attracted you to nursing as a profession?
One of my favorite jobs, was as a vet tech. My primary job there was to sedate animals and participate in surgery, helping the doctor as a first assistant in surgery. Somebody said to me one day, ‘why don’t you do anesthesia for humans as a nurse.’ It was intriguing to me. I actually got into nursing to become a nurse anesthetist only to find out later that I didn’t want to do that for a living. So, I got my masters in nursing and my master’s in business administration and I’ve taken the administrative route.

What types of things are you doing now in the hospital?
Once I got my master’s degrees, they realized that I was pretty good with budgets and numbers and managing projects, so I became the clinical operations director of the hospital. With COVID going on, I am the PPE person for the entire house.

What is it like managing the PPE right now?
It’s really a daily challenge. We’re surging now. So, the amount of PPE I have to order is increasing in frequency and in quantity at the same time. We get an assessment of what’s going on that very day and put in an order to make sure to get the equipment the next day. It’s challenging because things are not coming in because the supply chain is affected at this point. Luckily we’ve been able to stay on top of it and do a pretty good job. People don’t feel they have the right protection. When you do give them their PPE, they want something better. It’s a strain on everyone.

Are you working with COVID patients as well?
I don’t really do patient care. But, I do help manage those units and make sure they have the right staffing, the right equipment and all their concerns are addressed. I’m more of the management guy then the actual patient care provider.

What message do you think your staff would like us to know right now?
These times are really hard. I’s taking a toll on a lot of healthcare workers, psychologically and physically. One thing about nursing is that most nurses get into it because they love taking care of people. That’s exactly what we’re doing, COVID or not. But the demands are much more intense these days because it’s relentless. We’re surging so we’re feeling it more than ever, but really the message is that we’re all in it together and we’ll get through it. We have to keep our head up and keep moving. The nurses here feel like the community is behind them. They have a lot of support, a lot of donations are coming in. They have parades to recognize their efforts. But, at the end of the day, we’re at war, and it’s tough.

Would you describe what the war looks like right now?
It is more than a visual. If you were to walk in the hospital, you may not notice much difference than pre covid. The war is more of a psychological war. I’m trying to just stay healthy, because this thing is everywhere. At the hospital – it’s not so much chaotic or messy or anything like that – it’s actually quite organized. However, it’s constant. When you have exposures, then you get short-staffed. And then, for those nurses that are not exposed , the hours get longer. It’s just a really busy time.

Where are you finding some relief right now?
I have two kids, so I have been able to balance my mind a little bit. I made it a point to myself that when I get home, I’m a father and a husband. I disconnect from work, even though my phone is ringing 24-7. I go in the pool with my kids every single day. They need to get out because they’re home all day long. I try to take them outside and get some sun. And, It’s good for me, because it’s quite de-stressing

Would you tell us a little bit about the business you have with your wife?
My wife is a doctor, Vanessa Marino. She has an optometry office right off of 124th and Galloway. We’ve been there for seven years. She’s a pediatric and contact lens specialist. I am her handyman / accountant / designer / everything but the clinical piece.

What do you enjoy about being a small business owner?
Having your own businesses is a lifelong project. It’s almost like, you just want to keep the momentum going. We’ve expanded twice. I look forward to those challenges of expanding and designing and giving her a dream office. That’s my goal as her husband, to make sure her dreams are realized. That motivates me. We started with a very small practice and over seven years turned it over to a nice modern high-tech, well-spaced office that people enjoy coming to. It’s challenging yet rewarding at the same time.

You have been coming to the market for years and our drive through since we started. Would you share about why you come?
It is actually for a personal reason. When I started my management career and I was studying for my masters degrees and my wife started her business, the stress got to my body and I broke out with a certain dermatitis. They couldn’t diagnose it. It went on for two years. I tried all kinds of things and nothing seemed to work. One day, I was walking through the Pinecrest garden farmer’s market and I met you and I started talking to you about it and you sold me on turmeric. And I said, you know what, ‘it doesn’t hurt.’ Two months later, my dermatitis was gone and to this day it’s never returned, and I’ve never let up on the turmeric tonic. Even if it’s a placebo effect, I’ll keep doing it because it’s working. I really believe in the product. I’ve seen it firsthand. My wife likes it and my kids actually drink it sometimes. I wish you guys would sell it here at South Miami hospital. I love your smoothies too and my kids love them too.

Which smoothies do you all get?
I always get the Tropikale and Sapodelicious. My daughter loves the rainbow smoothie – probably more because it’s a rainbow than what it actually has in it. They’re delicious and they’re nutritious and so good. I think people really trust you guys and what you do with your farm’s products. I mean the lines are out of control.

What is it like coming to the drive through?
It is a little bit of a drive but the line is much shorter for sure. I don’t mind the distance – I only went to the farmer’s market for you guys. So, I like the drive through because it saves me having to get out of my car and dealing with the parking issues.

What other local businesses are you supporting during Covid?
I am a Palmetto Bay guy, and having a small business, I understand the need to support our small businesses. My favorite place not just to eat, but to have a beer, is Golden Rule, which is right next to my house. There’s a great Italian place in Palmetto Bay called, Cafe Portofino, which I absolutely love. And, there’s a pizza place called Zio Artú, which is fairly new.

What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
Marino eyecare. Definitely.

What is a worthy splurge for you?
I just need to get out to the ocean. That’s all I need. I need a day where I can go out on my boat. I miss it. I haven’t been able to enjoy it in eight months or so. Just to have a day out in the ocean and getting to disconnect from real life right now.

What is a good rainy-day activity?
Kicking back with my kids and watching one of their Disney movies.

Is there a question that you would you like to ask us?
(MM) What other kinds of goodies or plans do you have for the future?

(A+W) Now that we have the store open, it’s a blank canvas. We are thinking about opening during the week and other products we can make. Right now, we are looking for a commercial pasta making machine so that we can introduce our Turmeric Pasta. We would love to hear from you about any idea or desires of what you would like.

(MM) Maybe some ice cream?

(A+W) Have you tried the ice cream that we now have at the store? We’re carrying the Frice’s Ice creams. They are our favorite Ice Cream ever. This week we are loving their Turmeric Ice Cream made with our concentrate! We have been using it for ice cream sandwiches with our turmeric heart cookies. It’s a hit with our whole family.

(MM) Wow, I haven’t tried it.

Is there a challenge or advice that you might like to post to the community?
I think COVID has really brought to the forefront, the importance of staying healthy. It’s made me double down on your products and keep it as a daily ritual for myself. When I drink your product, I just feel healthier. I think our nation is very unhealthy and during a time like this, you really need to take care of yourself. So, I’d just like to bring more to attention to your products because they’re fantastic and healthy. That’s a hard combination to come up with.

Is there a pitch about your family business that you might like to share?
If anybody is looking for a local eye doctor who really focuses on quality, not quantity, that has been our sticking point. We don’t market. We go by word of mouth and it’s worked tremendously. People love my wife’s style. She really takes her time and caters to her patients. If you want a good eye experience then I highly recommend you to come over. We’ll be happy to take care of you.