When Kerrie Lowrie and her husband took their children on vacation, they could never envision their 3-year-old daughter falling and splitting her chin open. Three hours away from home, Lowrie visited an urgent care center, where the staff was reluctant to treat her daughter.
While there, they texted their primary care provider Lisa Magary from Celebrate Primary Care in Gainesville. She offered to meet them in her office at 9 p.m. that evening, where she performed their daughter’s stitches, which have since healed beautifully.
“We were so confident that Lisa would provide excellent care. We love that we are able to text Lisa whenever we have a need, concern or an emergency, and she gets back to us usually immediately or within the hour,” said Lowrie, whose family members are on Celebrate Primary Care through her husband’s employer benefits plan.
“I feel like we get much better care than we’ve ever received at any doctor’s office or emergency room.”
Celebrate Primary Care (CPC) is a direct primary health care practice that offers personalized family care that is thorough, comprehensive, expedient and easily affordable. The practice also provides a care service plan for small businesses to provide a primary care benefit to their employees in lieu of traditional health insurance, which is usually cost-prohibitive. Celebrate can also be an add-on for a high-deductible policy.
Founded by Magary and Della Tuten in 2015, Celebrate Primary Care was meant to fill the niche locally for personal and direct primary care. The model is so innovative because it places the provider-patient relationship at the center of the practice by eliminating the red tape of insurance and bureaucracy in favor of tailoring to each individual’s patient care.
“Patients have a need for quality primary care where their choices and options are transparent between them and their provider,” Magary said. “With our model, we wanted patients to have that direct connection to their provider and to be in control of their own care, not held hostage by insurance companies and other interests making choices for them.
“Similarly, we wanted to offer small businesses in town the opportunity to provide that benefit for their employees, who either may not have a reliable primary care provider or may lack health insurance altogether.”
Because of the high cost of health insurance, 46 percent of small and medium business employers in the U.S. are uninsured, which means that nearly 2.7 million businesses are uninsured, according to Jordan Jolley for PeopleKeep, Inc.
Celebrate Primary Care’s business plan owners pay $50 per month per employee, as opposed to insurance, which on average costs around $6,000 per employee. There are currently over 100 small businesses enrolled in the service.
Celebrate Primary Care does not take health insurance and operates on a membership fee. This allows it to work directly with the patient, providing wholesale labs and prescription prices along the way. The combination of the concierge health care service model and the small business care plan makes it the first of its kind in Gainesville.
“We hear about quality employees leaving small businesses because of a lack of benefits like primary care. We want to be an affordable solution for businesses in our community to help attract and retain employees,” Tuten said.
Magary and Tuten do recommend that their clients still carry both a major medical plan and a health savings account, thereby ensuring financial help should hospitalization or referral to a specialist be necessary.
“We are very fortunate to work with the industry leaders in health insurance in Florida, who are able to develop very eloquent plans that remove much of the waste and inefficiency from a typical, bloated policy. Young families have saved nearly $1,000/month and many businesses 30-50 percent while providing a higher level of care. We are happy to connect you with a health insurance expert,” Magary said.
Mini-Maid owner Carol Doak can still remember when one of her employees came to her after her first patient visit to Celebrate Primary Care. Her employee had tears in her eyes and said, “It’s the first time any doctor has ever actually taken the time to really listen to me.”
It’s moments like this that make Doak’s investment into Celebrate Primary Care so worth it for her and her employees.
Doak, whose Gainesville-based cleaning business has about 16 employees, was attracted to the Celebrate Primary Care business plan because of the value it offered both her business and her employees and its positive effects on productivity and wellness.
“In the past, many of my employees would avoid doctor visits because of the length of time it may take them to get an appointment. That could mean an ER visit, which would leave them with overwhelming medical bills,” said Doak, who is also a patient.
“With this plan, many of my employees who utilize the service are shocked by how easily they can access the practice’s services and by the affordability of the medication.
“I view the plan offered by Celebrate Primary Care as really an extension of my own philosophy of caring for my employees.”
As a business owner, Doak can also rely on Magary and Tuten to quickly to answer employer-related health questions about workers compensation and injuries on the job.
The practice has its own lab station and pharmacy onsite, so patients do not have to travel to various locations for their health needs. Its lab and pharmaceutical costs can run almost 90 percent off the typical medical costs.
With the combination of low cost and availability, the service aces its goal of saving both employers’ and employees’ time and money with regards to their health care concerns.
“Health care for a family of four is very expensive. Most of our friends pay over $1,000 a month to have health insurance, so the fact that my husband’s employer, ITProTV, put Celebrate Primary Care in their employer benefits package is a major plus for this family,” Lowrie said.
“If I go to a local pharmacy, it cost $10 or more for our prescriptions. At Celebrate Primary Care, I recently got an antibiotic for a little over a dollar, and we recently we got our daughter a nebulizer and medicine for a much cheaper price than through the insurance company.”
Celebrate Primary Care recently moved into a new, larger location at 919 NW 57th St., near the Oaks Mall. It has also have widened its team by bringing on practitioners Jennifer Conlon and Samantha Noah and, most recently, Dr. Michelle Rossi.
Building its team has allowed it to stay true to its mission of personalized health care by spending more time with patients, allowing same-day and next-day appointments, minimizing wait times and having direct connection with patients unrivaled by most of their peers.
This includes giving their patients the ultimate care experience by being readily available to help with health and medical information via webcam, email and text message.
“What makes Celebrate Primary Care so unique is the personal touch. We know our doctor, and she knows our family. I don’t ever feel like we’re just one out of hundreds of patients that see her,” Lowrie said.
The center continues to grow and maintain a happy and healthy client base keeping its mission that has stayed true since its opening.
“We strive to provide great care at a great cost that’s unmatched. This can be a win-win for patients and for businesses,” Tuten said.