Securing primary care treatment usually consists of long waits, fights with insurance companies and large co-pays with little payoff.
Celebrate Primary Care is working to change all of that. Opened in May 2015, nurse practitioners Della Tuten and Lisa Magary have created a new system that seeks to benefit everyone.
Tuten and Magary attended graduate school together at the University of Florida, with Tuten earning a Master of Science in Nursing in 2006 and Magary a Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2010. The pair are board-certified in family practice, and Magary is also board-certified in pediatrics.
They decided to open their own direct primary care practice — and Gainesville’s first concierge medical practice — because of the struggles of working in traditional medicine. “We wanted to provide quality patient care, and we could no longer do that in a traditional medical practice,” said Tuten.
One of the biggest challenges in traditional medicine is dealing with insurance companies. Celebrate doesn’t accept insurance, so they aren’t limited by what insurance companies will or will not pay for. However, they still insist that patients have insurance in case they need to be seen by a specialist or need to be hospitalized.
Because they don’t accept insurance, the overall process is easier for the patient. “What makes us different is that patients come here and get very transparent pricing,” explained Magary. Patients discuss and know all costs before any medicines are ordered or labs are done. They don’t charge co-pays for visits, and offer up to 90 percent off labs and medications.
Insurance companies put restrictions on patients and their providers, said Tuten. “When you have insurance saying, ‘Well, we’ll pay for this, but we won’t pay for that,’ it very much complicates the relationship between the provider and the patient,” Tuten said. “It makes the patient feel as if they’re not being listened to. And when a provider is trying to do the best for their patient but they have roadblocks, it creates a lot of friction.”
That’s not how Tuten and Magary want to treat patients. “We want to treat patients based on their needs,” Tuten said. Treating patients the way they want to be treated preserves the relationship between the provider and patient, according to Tuten. She believes that an insurance provider, who is not in the medical field, cannot come up with the best guidelines for patient care.
Another common problem with traditional doctor’s offices is the wait time. Celebrate has changed that, too. The providers each see about eight patients a day, with 600 patients total for the practice, rather than the 24 to 40 patients a day and 2,000 patients total that is common in traditional practice — and that’s a huge difference, Tuten said.
They also have specific appointment times for their patients, and that’s when they’re seen. “We have a waiting room where no one waits,” Magary laughed. “There’s no sitting in a waiting room for two hours to then sit in an exam room for 30 minutes to be seen by the provider for three minutes.”
Because they aren’t mandated by an insurance company to see a specific number of patients, the providers have time to build relationships and get to know their patients. “We’re not factory medicine,” Tuten said. Factory medicine refers to the assembly line that funnels patients through the care process as fast as possible in traditional medical practice, she explained. With the limited number of patients at Celebrate, the providers get to know their patients’ needs in an atmosphere that is not rushed.
“If you have an hour to spend with someone versus five minutes, it’s a huge difference.”
For Tuten, it means she has a chance to get to know her patients and know what’s going on with them. “Not just about their medical needs, but you learn a lot about their personal needs, and that ties into their whole person and their entire well-being,” she explained.
Learning about each person in this way ties into the practice’s holistic approach. Celebrate aims to address each patient’s physical well-being as well as their spiritual being and mental health. All of those things tie together, Della said, and in traditional medicine, you don’t have time to do that.
Patients are also able to contact their providers after-hours if they have any questions. The limited amount of patients means that the providers are available when their patients need them. Being able to see patients as soon as they need to be seen reduces urgent care visits, hospitalization and emergency room visits. “I feel like we’re helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives,” said Tuten.
Through the practice’s numerous Google reviews, people can see how satisfied current patients are with their care. With more than 29 reviews and no rating below five stars, Celebrate Primary Care clearly provides the care, support and love that its patients need.
When the providers have reached the maximum number of patients, they bring on a new provider. They look for someone who is like-minded and has the same commitment to patient care that they want to continue to practice.
The latest addition to Celebrate’s offerings is their second location opening spring 2017 in Newberry. They chose a new location in Newberry because of its current limited access to care. “That area of town is growing, and we want to provide care to those patients out there,” Tuten said. They also want to provide a solution for small business owners, emphasized Tuten. She believes offering primary care services through Celebrate will help businesses with employee retention.
The new location is in addition to their Gainesville office at 4400 NW 23rd Ave., Suite B and will have a chiropractor and massage therapist. This goes along with the holistic approach to care and is something the area doesn’t have at the moment.
Celebrate offers free consultations for those who want to test out their services. Most of the time, Tuten pointed out, they decide to enroll. “They realize that we’re an advocate for them,” she said. “That’s not something they’ve ever had with their healthcare provider…just because they don’t have the time to provide the care that we do.”
Picture Caption: Della Tuten and Lisa Magary