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Sharp Health News

A legacy of compassionate care … and piggyback rides

March 30, 2016

Dr. Ronald Benz

Members of the first Sharp Rees-Stealy board of directors: (Front, L to R) Peter Ellsworth; Lt. Gen. Victor H. “Brute” Krulak, USMC retired; Dr. Donald C. Balfour III; (Back, L to R) Justice William Todd, Dr. Thomas Mosher, Harold Sadler, Dr. Ronald Benz.

In 2016, local health care legend Dr. Ronald Benz, a board-certified pediatric otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group hung up his stethoscope. He left behind memories of medical excellence along with unprecedented care and compassion.

Dr. Benz began his career in 1975 with what was then known as Rees-Stealy Medical Group. He had since been a dedicated physician to the group, which in 1985 became Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.

His storied career includes his role on the Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group board of directors. He also served as president of the San Diego Academy of Otolaryngology and as a delegate to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

Year after year, Dr. Benz's practice was consistently ranked highly by Press Ganey, an organization that highlights the outstanding work of health care providers. He was honored by numerous regional and national groups for his outstanding patient care and his commitment to promoting children's health.

Uplifting stories about Dr. Benz are endless. From his constant easygoing demeanor to his willingness to work patients into a full schedule, or how he personally returned their calls to the office, tales about the doctor showed he was unquestioningly beloved by all.

Parents of patients call him an extraordinary doctor who was able to calm nerves and even provided a little fun and cheer before surgeries or during exams. At Rady Children's Hospital, Dr. Benz was known for the many piggyback rides he gave his patients into the operating room.

A plaque dedicated to Dr. Benz is displayed at the hospital and includes this quote from Toni and Kent Aden, parents of one of his patients, "Our son was 3 when he needed to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. We will never forget Dr. Benz bending down, telling Justin to jump on his back and carrying him down the hall into surgery. Dr. Benz sat on the operating table cross-legged, holding Justin and his favorite stuffed animal dog, Collar. Both Justin and Collar had their little anesthesia masks on, and Dr. Benz rocked them gently to sleep."

Visits to his office were equally enjoyable. Dr. Benz told his young patients that he'd give them a special surprise if they allowed him to check their ears and throat. That special surprise was three stickers and a dollar bill for all who cooperated.

"Dr. Benz is an extraordinary doctor," writes a colleague. "Foremost on his mind are those who work so hard at Sharp Rees-Stealy. He truly believes they are like family."

There's no question this family will miss Dr. Benz.

Do you know a great Sharp-affiliated doctor? If you'd like to join Sharp in celebrating our outstanding affiliated physicians this Doctors' Day, we invite you to make a Guardian Angel gift in honor of a Sharp-affiliated doctor who's made a difference in your care.

Your doctor will receive a card notifying them of your gift, a Guardian Angel pin to wear throughout the hospital or medical office, and will be recognized in our Doctors' Day tribute book. You'll also help ensure we continue to bring the very best that health care has to offer to the San Diego community by supporting new technologies, pioneering research and state-of-the-art facilities.

This story was updated in May 2017.

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