Dr. Greg H. Savel entered MYRTLE AVE. PEDIATRICS in 1991 after graduating from the University of Miami, the University of South Florida (USF) School of Medicine and USF Pediatric Residency. He has been a resident of Florida since 1972. He is the President of Myrtle Ave. Pediatrics, Chairman of PITCH, HOST of Playing Unplugged- Just What the Doctor Ordered and most important, he is the father to his daughter Mackenzie and a loving husband to his wife Carol.
How long have you lived in the Tampa Bay area?
I’ve been here since 1984
What is your favorite Tampa Bay restaurant?
I love what’s happening in the downtown St. Petersburg area.
The Birchwood and Z-Grille are two of my favorites.
I recently ate at Restaurant BT in Tampa and spent some time talking to BT Nguyen, the Chef and owner… it was an amazing experience as well.
Where is your favorite place in Tampa Bay to relax?
Photography and motorcycling are my other loves so anywhere I can ride and capture wonderful images. Of course, if my photographic “VISION” for the day isn’t coming together I cannot relax at all.
What is your favorite event to attend to in Tampa Bay?
Main Sail Art Festival in St. Pete
If you had never become a physician, what would’ve been your plan B or second career choice?
I’m still proud to call myself a NERD. I’m the guy that everyone calls when their computer or home theater system isn’t working properly. I worked at Radio Shack while in school and might return there. Funny thing, just yesterday I saw a family whose dad is the manager of a local Best Buy… I asked him if there were any part time openings for THE GEEK SQUAD.
Why did you become a pediatrician?
When I was a teenager my sister earned money by babysitting for many wonderful families in my town. I spent a lot of time helping her take care of the kids and I realized how much I enjoyed children and interacting with them. While in medical school I found myself having issues treating adults that placed their physical health at risk because of bad decision making. I enjoyed much more the interactions of kids and their families so it was an easy decision for me.
I have to say it was one of the more enjoyable interviews I’ve done. After all the research we conducted on you as a physician, your pediatrician office and the viewing of the extremely creative and super fun videos… my entire staff, including myself, wish we were sick and kids again. How important is it to maintain a great team, creative outreach and a fun atmosphere in your practice?
On the surface it probably seems like we’re just trying to be different than every other practice. While there is some truth to that statement however what is more accurate in our case is that this is just who we are. The personality you see, the man dressed in this outfit… I could tell you that I do it for the kids but the truth is I do it for me because I’m just this kind of person. I’ve always tried to surround myself with the kind of people who want to have a good time but are serious in their profession. When Sharon (The Doctor Whisperer) came along, she was exactly cut from the same rug. She was innovative, fun, intelligent and understood the way business is done. She had a lot to do with the personality of our practice. Our outward appearance and creativity plays a big role in the success. I want people to see that we’re different but more that we are an amazing place to have their children cared for.
What has been the most rewarding accolade with your position as a pediatrician?
The opportunity to volunteer and help out worthwhile community organizations. For example I host Playing Unplugged in Largo for the third year in a row while Sharon works tirelessly to raise funds and bring the Pediatric community together. We are asking children to unplug from their electronic devices and come out and play actively with us. We’re expecting 20,000 people at the event this year in April. Sharon has secured Randi Zuckerberg to join us so she can read her new children’s book DOT., it correlates perfectly with our intentions. Also recently I have been asked to be the chairperson of PITCH, Sharon is Vice-Chair. This is the Pinellas Immunization Team for Community Health working toward increasing immunization rates of children in our community. It is been my extreme honor to be asked to be the face of both of these worthwhile causes.
How important is it today, for private practice to be involved with the community and how important is it to you personally?
I’m honored to be able to give back to the community which has given me everything. I think it is a sad thing when physicians are not willing to give of their time to the very same community that supports them in the first place. I welcome the opportunity to help in any way that I can because it’s a great honor for me.
You were recently elected as the Chairman of the Pinellas Immunizations Team For Community Health (PITCH). What exactly is PITCH and why is this coalition so important?
We are reaching a crisis in the United States as immunization compliance falls. Diseases that killed humans years ago and have been almost unheard of for years because of immunizations in our country are now coming back with a vengeance. The decision of so many people to not immunize their children based on erroneous facts and data is the major factor of this epidemic. PITCH is making a difference by creating a dialogue in our community between healthcare professionals and those interested in helping increase immunization rates where we live. I’m happy to serve as the chairman of this organization that is trying to and succeeding in making a difference in the health of our community.
According to the CDC, Childhood obesity has more than doubled and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 Years. What are some of the factors in your opinion, that has manifested such staggering higher percentages of obesity in our youth today?
The truth is the increase in obesity comes down to one simple formula… too many calories in and not enough calories out. We live in a world where the food that taste the best and is most readily available often has the least amount of useful nutrition. Society today has become fast-paced and we want everything immediately. Fast food has become the go to meal to save time. The other major factor is we have become a plugged in society. Kids are expending fewer calories due to lack of activity. The percentages of kids who spend hours in front of videogames are computers are staggering. We must find a way to have kids be more active and consume healthier food options. There is no other way to help with this horrendous obesity problem in this country.
What is the event Playing Unplugged and why is it important to you?
As I mentioned above, the lack of activity due to electronic device usage is at the heart of the problem of the obesity issue in this country. While none of us can doubt that technology has advanced our society and the internet can be a useful tool in educating. The problem is in the amount of hours that are spent by so many children plugged in to some sort of device and plugged out of activity. The idea of playing unplugged is all about getting away from those devices and getting back outside. What better person to have than the creator of Facebook’s sister and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, Randi Zuckerberg at our next Playing Unplugged event. The NFL has been behind this for a long time with their play 60 campaign. This campaign is all about promoting 60 minutes of vigorously exercising every single day. A recent study showed that 80% of males and 92% of females who are overweight at age 16 will be obese as adults. Reread that statement a few times and try not to gasp.
In 2014, private practices will be faced a period of unprecedented change and challenges, driven by a wide variety of factors. Are you and your team prepared and what is your best attribute for success?
There has been a lot of changes and will continue to be even more. I’ve always felt that if you have a great practice, with a wonderful support staff and have ability to understand and embrace change, then you’re going to have a successful practice. Today’s practices need to understand social media and its impact it can have. The truth is that physicians like any other business have to be ready to adapt and change to what is needed in our current society. The formula for success is based on having a good product. I’m happy to say that I am working with 30 of the best people in pediatrics today. We are celebrating 50 years as a practice.