Nearly 18 months after the 17,000 square-foot Christ Medical Center on State Road 44 shuttered its doors, the building is bustling with workers laying communication and electric cables, repairing roof and air-conditioning systems, and refurbishing the interior.
The changes at 7562 W. State Road 44 are the work of Dr. Kenneth Savage Jr., owner of Nature Coast Primary Care in Crystal River. He bought the building through his Citrus County Leo, LLC this month and hopes to move his current business into the new facility this spring. The decision to move into the facility, which originally opened in 2013 and closed in 2018, is rooted in the simple need for more space, he said.
Nature Coast Primary Care has grown to three physicians, three nurse practitioners, and a physician assistant and while still able to accept new patients, Savage said, “we are outgrowing our building.”
Savage said the growth and the need for more space is because of Nature Coast Primary Care’s dedication toward its patients.
“We focus heavily on preventative medicine. We are excellent at managing chronic conditions and we dedicate time for when our patients have to be seen urgently,” Savage said. “We make it a point of engaging our patients … treating them as a whole person.”
Savage opened his doors at 921 N. Citrus Ave. in Crystal River in 2012. He stared the business with one assistant and three examination rooms. During the past seven-and-a-half years he expanded it into adjacent buildings to include 10 examination rooms and more than 20 staff.
Savage attended Kansas City University of Medicine.
Although the new facility needs updates and renovations, Savage said that most of the design of the building suits Nature Coast Primary Care’s growth. The new facility will have between 16 to 20 examination rooms. The plan is to move, hopefully by spring, Nature Coast Primary Care’s staff and equipment into the State Road 44 new facility taking only one or two business days without interfering with the needs of his patients. He doesn’t yet know what he’ll do with the current Nature Coast Primary Care buildings.
Savage decorated his current offices with photography from local artists. He said he will do the same at the new State Road 44 location 2 miles away in Crystal River. He also is using local contractors to do the work there.
“Because I love our county and reinvesting money in the community is good for the local economy and it comes around again if we look out for one another,” he said.
The property is valued at $2.6 million, according to the Citrus County Property Appraiser’s Office. It was valued at about $2.1 million when it opened in 2013. It was owned by the late Dr. Eihab Tawfik before he filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018.
Savage said he is still considering additional services at the new location, such as ultra sound and x-ray and a lab for bloodwork.
He said he plans to apply the same approach toward medicine at the new location as he has in the past seven years.
“I became a family doctor because I love taking care of the patient as a whole person … I fell in love with the holistic approach and getting to know the patient,” he said.
Savage said there have been many doctors in his family line including his father, Ken Savage Sr., a local cardiologist, and his grandfather, Peter Savage, in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.
A doctor’s office that’s small can be successful, but by growing there are lower overall costs and more efficiencies, he said.
Savage said he doesn’t want to exchange quality for quantity. He said he hires more employees than another office might because in the end it means the patient has a better experience.
He said growing and moving into a larger building gives his patients the assurance that when they need to see a health care provider one will be available to them.
As for the new building, “It’s a big, beautiful, grandiose (facility),” he said, “to give our patients a great experience.”